The memory of James Hyslop is cherished with great affection in the West of Scotland, especially in the uplands of Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire. His "Cameronian Dream" is known everywhere; but in the parishes of Sanquhar and Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire, there are persons still living who are able to repeat from memory many of his songs and other poems which are less known, and which they obtained either from himself or from those who were personally acquainted with him. The multiplication of cheap literature, however, is every year rendering oral traditions more rare and less reliable, and a desire has consequently sprung up to have the poems of Mr. Hyslop collected into a volume.
The late Rev. Dr. Simpson, of Sanquhar, who was personally acquainted with Mr. Hyslop, and who was long associated with his relatives and friends, said of the poet — "The warmth with which his memory is cherished in his native district is almost incredible, and especially by the inhabitants of the moorlands among whom he sojourned, and in the ears of whom the sweet voice of his muse is still heard in many a lingering lay" [author's note: Traditions of the Covenanters, First Series, page 241]. "The kindliness of his disposition, the homeliness of his manners, the purity of his character, his instructive conversation, the sparklings of his genius, the warm-hearted effusions of his moorland muse, all operated like magic on the children of the wilderness who claim him as peculiarly their own, and who would resent an injury done to his memory as if it were a personal offence. He gained the love and esteem of all with whom he became acquainted, whether at home or abroad. He breathed his last in a distant part of the world, at the early age of twenty-nine; but he died, it is hoped, in the full faith and comfort of that Gospel to the knowledge of which he had been brought while in his own country" [author's note: "James Hyslop, the moorland poet," in Scottish Presbyterian Magazine for 1853]. The same writer, in his sketch of William Laing, another Kirkconnel poet, says that James Hyslop was "a youth of excellent parts, and one whose name is most sweetly embalmed in the memory of all his early associates, and whom some of them could not mention without tears, so dear was his memorial to them; and whose songs, and thrilling tales, and charming poetry have secured for him a remembrance for a long time to come." I remember that, in 1830, boys at the Parish School of Muirkirk were frequently employed to write out a fair copy of the "Cameronian Dream," for which they received sixpence, and they considered this a handsome remuneration.
James Hyslop was born on the 23rd of July, 1798, in the parish of Kirkconnel, at a place called Damhead, on the farm of Kirkland, the residence of his maternal grandfather, George Lammie, a customer weaver, of excellent Christian character. According to one informant, George Lammie was for fifty years an elder in the Parish Church; but Mr. Alexander Muir, of Paisley, a, relative of the family, and intimately acquainted with their whole history, says, in a letter to the late Mr. Alexander Rodger, of Greenock, of date 4th February, 1841: — "The old man died a few years since at the advanced age of 95, and for 60 years of his life was he a worthy elder of the Parish Church." Robert Pollok, author of "The Course of Time," was born in the same year with James Hyslop; and it is remarkable that both these Scottish poets died also in the same year, 1827. Like several other young poets of high promise, both died ere they had completed their thirtieth year. Kirkconnel, the native parish of our poet, is situated on the west border of Dumfriesshire, where that county borders on Ayrshire. Some writers date the poet's birth two years later; but I have given the correct date from his grandfather's Bible, now in possession of the poet's cousin, Mr. George Ker, of Sanquhar.
Dr. Simpson says of the place of the poet's birth: — "It was in a little cottage on the margin of a moorland stream where he first drew the breath of life; and it is exactly such a spot as one would delight to look on as the birthplace of a poet. The brook on which stood his native hut threads its way through the romantic defile of Glen Aylmer, a scene of surpassing sweetness, and noted in persecuting story for the escape of one of the worthies of the Covenant, who freed himself from the grasp of the dragoon by slipping from the horse behind him, and rolling like a ball adown the steep green side of the hill into the deep vale beneath. This streamlet, which gurgles through the glen whose verdant slopes are spotted with the bleating ewes in the shiny days of summer, pursues its course close by a deserted churchyard, where slumber the ashes of many generations of long-forgotten dead, and of some who jeoparded their lives in the high places of the field in the day of Zion's troubles, when the sons of the Covenant had to shelter themselves in the moorland solitudes, and 'The minister's home was the mountain and wood.' This brook, advancing to the table-land beneath, has, in ages long gone by, worn its channel to a great depth, and formed a winding dell in the bottom; and here, on a little plain of velvet green in a bend of the rivulet, stood the cottage we have mentioned in which Hyslop was ushered into the world" [author's note: Scottish Presbyterian Magazine for 1853].
It will be convenient to sketch the life of James Hyslop under such heads as — the Schoolboy; the Muirkirk Shepherd; the Corsebank Shepherd; the Schoolmaster; the Tutor on board the Doris; and the Tutor on board the Tweed. In each of these connections, especially that of the schoolmaster, I shall have occasion to notice the activity of his muse.
I. — THE SCHOOLBOY.
JAMES HYSLOP'S grandfather was in somewhat straitened circumstances, and therefore he could not afford to send his grandson early to school; but he taught him the letters of the alphabet, and gave him his first lessons in reading in the Shorter Catechism and the Bible. In those days the letters of the alphabet ware printed on the first page of the Catechism; and, with this introduction, it was the first lesson-book in the cottage homes of Scotland. James was afterwards sent, for a short while, to the Parish School in Kirkconnel, which was at that time taught by Mr. Jonathan Dawson, who at once discovered the superior abilities of his pupil, and from the first felt an enthusiastic interest in the boy. But he had not time to make much progress at school, as his grandfather required to find employment for him in tending cattle on the neighbouring hills. While other children were busy with their lessons at school, he was out early and late herding on the hills. Uncomplainingly he bore this exclusion from the education he earnestly desired to obtain. The "Five Shilling Fee" expresses the feelings which at the time had been suppressed:
I said na a word, but my heart it would ache;
And I wished I was big, for my puir mither's sake.
But his diligence in self-instruction was remarkable even at that early period. Among the few books that fell into his hands were old sermons, and volumes of controversial divinity. When Mr. Alexander Rodger was making inquiries about him, in 1856, among his native mountains, a worthy old woman informed him that the lad had come to her over the hills for three miles in the dark to question her about the long letters in these books that looked like "f," but which, he said, surely "couldna, be 'f';" and it was much to his delight that she cleared away his difficulties by informing him that those letters "that hadna a cross mark in the middle were lang esses."
Mr. Dawson deeply regretted that so promising a lad as James Hyslop should be withdrawn from the benefits of a school education; and, at his suggestion, with a view to his getting to school, he was sent to the farm of Wee Carco, or Little Carco, on the banks of the Crawick, about two miles above the point where that romantic stream falls into the Nith. This farm was tenanted by his paternal grandfather, who could better afford to give him education than his grandfather on the other side. Mr. Hyslop agreed to send him to school at the neighbouring town of Sanquhar; but he soon found that his grandson, who had become a strong, active lad, was able to render important service on the farm, and he allowed him to attend school only "in the dead o' the year," when there is little opportunity of labour on these moorland farms. He diligently prosecuted self-education, however, and availed himself of the help of evening classes when not a day scholar. It is said that he composed "The Beacon," in its first shape, whilst at Carco, in 1810, when he was only twelve years of age.
James Hyslop received early assistance from both of his grandfathers, who wore proud of him; but he owed nothing to his own father, who was unfaithful to his mother, and left the neighbourhood. Mr. Alexander Muir, writing afterwards of this man, expresses strong disapproval of his conduct; but as he was then dead, he declines to say all lie might have said regarding him. When James was at school in Sanquhar he was taller than the other boys, and on this account they called him "faither." A school-fellow still living described his garb to the Rev. J. H. Scott, of Sanquhar, as of home-spun blue woollen.
When James Hyslop was but a little boy his mother was married to John Lammie, a young shepherd at Auchtitinch, in the parish of Auchinleck, but far amid the melancholy moors. Mr. Muir, of Paisley, in a letter to Mr. Rodger (16th February, 1841), gives an interesting account of the circumstances. He says: — "A few years after the birth of the poet, Margaret Lammie, his mother, was married to Mr. John Lammie, of Auchtitinch, in the parish of Auchinleck, Ayrshire. Though the place of his (John Lammie's) birth is in the parish of Auchinleck, it is fully sixteen miles from the Parish Kirk, and is situated in a wild and mountainous part of the country, at the head of Glenmuir Water. Spango also flows from the same hill, and after a run of ten miles it is joined by the Wanlock, when it takes the name of the Crawick. Kirkconnel being only seven miles from Auchtitinch, the Lammies used to attend the Parish Church there; and it was in that church that John first saw the beautiful Peggy. I have no hesitation in saying that her regular attendance there made as deep an impression on the mind of John Lammie as her lovely face and bewitching smile. He was a truly religious man, in the most exalted sense of the term; and he dwelt among a race of Christians worthy of primitive times — the Laings of Blagannoch; Andersons of Garland; Taylors of Penbreck; and Haddows of Glenmuirshaw. A few years after John and Margaret were married, he became shepherd to David Limond, Esq., at Dalblair (on Glenmuir Water), where he has resided up till the present time. He has a family of five sons and three daughters, each of whom loved the poet like a brother. John Lammie also paid great attention to him; and, from my own knowledge, I can say that he loved him like his own son. When residing at Wellwood, Hyslop made his mother's house at Dalblair his home, it being only four or five miles distant. There is not a happier family than Mr. Lammie's in the whole parish in which he lives; and a couple more respected by their master and neighbours than he and his wife could not be found, I believe, in any parish. Mrs. Lammie still retains traces of that personal beauty on account of which she was much admired in her early years. I have pleasure in thus dwelling on this subject, as I once lived with this happy family, and was 'loved as one of her own,' as the poet's mother expressed it" [author's note: Traditions of the Covenanters, p. 71].
From his earliest years James Hyslop was associated with the scenes of martyrdom, and he was familiar with stories of the Scottish martyrs. These are the scenes from which Dr. Simpson, of Sanquhar, industriously collected his numerous traditions of the Covenanters; and he has laid the Christian public under deep obligation by collecting and recording them, as they would otherwise soon have been hopelessly lost. Having lived for a few months at Penbreck in 1830, I had the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the excellent men to whom Mr. Muir refers, and from their lips I have heard thrilling stories of the times of persecution. After his mother removed to Dalblair, Hyslop became familiar with the sequestered glen through which the Glenmuir flows, where, as Dr. Simpson remarks, "his fine poetic genius was stimulated and nurtured by the mingled scenes of soft beauty and wild grandeur with which he was surrounded. Glenmuirshaw, near the head of this valley, is a pleasant spot, and must in former times have been a place of some consequence, as the ruins of its ancient baronial castle still indicate. Some lordly chieftain of the Saxon line seems to have selected it as the locality in which he chose to live in a state of rude splendour; and which must have been witnessed by the lonely sentinels that still guard the spot — the stately trees, whose dotard boughs and scaly rind bespeak the age of several centuries. He who sighs after a sweet meditative seclusion will find that seclusion at Glenmuirshaw."
II. — THE MUIRKIRK SHEPHERD.
Hyslop remained only two years at Wee Carco, and at the end of that period he was hired to be a shepherd lad at Nether Wellwood, in the parish of Muirkirk, where he remained four years (i.e., from 1812 till 1816), and acquired that experience which fitted him for the full duties of a shepherd. His education, so far as it depended on the help of teachers, was interrupted by this service; but his self-education was continued in his new home. A few years after lie had left Wellwood, he signed himself "The Muirkirk Shepherd," in contributions to the "Greenock Advertiser." Dr. Simpson applies the same designation to him; and this is the title of the sketch of Mr. Hyslop by Mr. Rodger, in the "Scottish Presbyterian" for September and November, 1840.
Mr. Muir takes Mr. Rodger to task for using this title. He says: "l object to the title of 'Muirkirk Shepherd' being placed in front of the Biographical Sketch. I would humbly suggest for your consideration the following titles: — 'The Kirkconnel Bard,' 'The Bard of Crawick,' 'The Bard of Spango,' 'The Nithsdale Shepherd,' or 'The Bard of Classic Corsencone,' a hill situated in the parish of Kirkconnel; or, what I believe the late poet would have himself preferred, the 'Corse bank Shepherd,' for he was a shepherd there as well as at Wellwood in Muirkirk." Mr. Muir forgets that Mr. Hyslop chose his title of "The Muirkirk Shepherd" after he had left all the scenes here referred to, and was living in the maritime town of Greenock. He objects, further, that "Muirkirk has had its shepherd Lapraik, the friend of Robert Burns, who was in the Upper Wellwood what Hyslop was in the Nether or Lower Wellwood." Mr. Lapraik's claims as a poet were slender compared with those of Hyslop; and Muirkirk can boast of other poets of no mean order. Mr. Muir mentions an inferior poet compared with "The Muirkirk Shepherd," namely, Mr. Hislop, of the Rhinns of Galloway, some of whose pieces have by mistake been ascribed to James Hyslop, and thereby injustice has been done to the reputation of the latter.
On the farm of Wellwood is the grave of Richard Cameron, on the famous swamp called Airsmoss. Wardlaw and its adjoining hill, the lofty Cairntable, are quite near, and in full view from Wellwood. Wardlaw slopes down on the north to the Water of Ayr, terminating in "Wellwood's sweet valley" on the banks of the river; and, on the south side, the same hill slopes down to Glenmuir Water at Dalblair. To these familiar scenes "The Muirkirk Shepherd" alludes when he sings—
On Wardlaw and Cairntable the clear shining dew
Glistened sheen 'mong the heathbells and mountain flowers blue;
And in Glemnuir's wild solitudes, lengthened and deep,
Were the whistling of plovers and bleating of sheep.
The poet himself has given us some information regarding his efforts at self-improvement when serving as a shepherd boy at Wellwood. Another young man, of the name of John M'Cartney, who was several years his senior, was employed on the same farm, and, its he too was a poet and a student, the two were probably mutually helpful. I heard lately of Mr. M'Cartney as an old man of fourscore living in Canada, and when a friend called on him he found him reading one of the Odes of Horace in the original. In a letter which appeared in the "Edinburgh Magazine" (April, 1820), as sent by Hyslop, some account is given of M'Cartney. It appears in the form of it letter to himself by a third party, who had been associated with him and M'Cartney; but probably it is thrown into this form to conceal the authorship, as Hyslop had a great aversion to appearing in his own name as an author. This aversion might arise from what Mr. Rodger calls his constitutional "blateness." His communications were dated from the place whence they were sent, and signed "H.," "J. H.," or "The Muirkirk Shepherd;" but he never appended his name. If this letter was written by another, he attested the facts it contains in sending it to the "Magazine;" but the style and all the circumstances related favour the idea that the letter is his own. He says that the writer, like the person he describes, "has taken up the greater part of his education at his own hand when following his flocks among the mountains of Nithsdale and Ayrshire. I believe he has experienced all the varieties of feeling that agitate the bosom of a Scottish peasant; and, for that reason, if he can contrive to make himself understood, I look upon him as tolerably well qualified to describe them." After referring to superstitions afloat in the parishes of Kirkconnel and Sanquhar, the letter proceeds:—
"As I have been lately visiting our old acquaintances on the banks of the Glenmuir, and particularly in the parish of Muirkirk, I wish to direct your attention to the remarkable apparition that was seen by our friend J. M. (John M'Cartney) at the grave of Cameron in Airsmoss. It is probable he may have told you of it himself before he went to America; but, as I am not certain whether he has or not, I shall tell you the story as he told it me. You recollect very well, when you and I were about Muirkirk, that the mischievous poetical genius of J— M— used to keep the whole parish in an uproar; it would allow nothing to lie at rest; it even shook the mountains, and raised the very dead out of their graves: for, besides conjuring up the ghost of how-d'ye-ca'm's auld mare to proclaim aloud, to the terror and astonishment of the hail kintra-side, how ill she had been used during the time of her sojourning here below, he began a dispute between the two neighbouring hills of Cairntable and Middlefieldlaw that was like to alarm the neighbourhood, and I am not certain if the difference be exactly settled at this day. By these, and a hundred tricks more of the same kind, did our poet distinguish himself among his companions; and, as he possessed naturally a guid gift o' the gab, and had, besides, one of the best educations Muirkirk could afford him, whether out of vanity or amusement I shall not presume to say, but so it was, he took a certain pride in contradicting sundry articles of popular belief. He would not believe that even his Clootieship was so idle, or yet so fond of rural amusements, as to come and divert himself at puttin' the stane with some of the shepherds about Staniehill and Wardlaw, or that he excelled so much in that diversion as to take up one about the size of an ordinary steamboat, and heave it frae the ane hill-side to the ither at ae swing, a distance of perhaps a mile and three-quarters. As little would he believe, when the good people's cats on Glenmuir Water cam' in a' droukit on Hallowe'en, that the fairies had galloped on them from their summer habitation amang the heather-bloom's on Wardlaw, to their winter quarters on the Dornal moat. He could not conceive that it was possible for any person to see a spirit. How could ever an immaterial existence be perceptible to bodily eyes? They were all beings of the imagination, and never seen by anybody in good health or in their sound senses.
"By these and many more arguments of the same kind did our philosopher attack the foundations of the popular faith — a faith that had descended from father to child through many successive generations, and in the truth of which they believed as firmly as in any of the miracles of Moses, and which, for that very reason, it was not advisable to meddle with J— M— did not consider these things, however, and glorious was his career in pulling down the strongholds of error and superstition. One philosophical victory followed another. Ghosts, brownies, and witches trembled at his approach, till he had almost persuaded himself into the belief that the vera deil durst hardly steer him. How far our friend might have proceeded in such laudable and profound discoveries, I know not, but it is certain, from his own confession, that he saw as much one night as put an end to his scepticism, and convinced him that there was 'more in heaven and earth than he dreamed of in his philosophy.'
"A little above the foot of the 'haunted Garpal,' on the opposite side of the Water of Ayr, stands the lonely little cottage of Tarreoch, or, perhaps, with more propriety, Tir Crioch, for it is exactly on the end of Airsmoss. Farther up the water, about half-a-mile beyond the Through-stane, is situated the neat little mansion of Nether Wellwood. Here, you recollect, the hero of our story officiated in the character of farmer's servant; here, in the innocent days of his boyhood, he spent his time in driving carts, making songs, forming theories, and forming ditches. He was young, and, like all other young poets, he would have sacrificed every other consideration to the pleasure of spending an hour in the company of a bonnie lassie. The lady of his love, for the time being, was an inmate of the abovementioned Tarreoch; and, according to the laws of gallantry established in the parish of Muirkirk, as you know well, my dear H., it was indispensably necessary that he should pay a visit to his Dulcinea at least every Tuesday or Friday night. He did so, and, fortified as he was with love and philosophy together, he was determined to set all the powers of darkness at defiance for once. Armed with this goodly resolution, as he came home from Tarreoch, instead of directing his course the nearest way for the Wellwood, he bent it straight for Cameron's grave. It was in the howe dead o' the nicht, a close mist, and nothing to disturb the silence of the solitary moorland save the lonely murmurs of the Ayr, and now and then the muir-fowl springing on whirring wings frae the dark moss-hags and heatherbushes at the approach of our devil-defying traveller. He would certainly have lost his way had it not been for the red flashing glare of Muirkirk furnaces gleaming through the mist at intervals, and which served to show him that he had now reached the little green sward, where, over the grave of the murdered, stands the Through-stane, whereon are engraved an open Bible, and the hand of the minister grasping his sword, under which are the following lines:
Halt, carious passenger, come here and read,
Our souls triumph with Christ, our glorious head;
In self-defence we murdered here do lie,
To witness 'gainst this nation's perjury.
What were his thoughts in such a place, at such an hour, I cannot tell. He told me he feared neither ghost nor devil; perhaps neither of them was there; but, 'Look, my lord, it comes!' 'Twas something more awful than either. 'It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof.' In the appearance of horses and a chariot of fire, it described a circular course half round the grave; the drivers seemed clothed in light; and the heather appeared bending under its burning wheels. As he gazed on it for about the space of half-a-minute, it vanished in a cloud of mist. He trembled, and felt as if the Almighty had passed by on His horses and chariots of salvation. He was so overcome with terror at what he had seen, that he lost his way among the mist, and wandered for some time in the moss between the Wellwood and Welltrees. At last he found the highway from Muirkirk to Old Cumnock, but he was so stupid that he knew not whether to turn to the right hand or to the left. After considering the upper side of the road and the lower, however, he found his way home. When he went to bed his fellow-servant was asleep, and he was determined to conceal his conversion from him and every one else, if possible. With this resolution he lay down, but he trembled so with the apprehension of seeing another vision, that all attempts at concealment were in vain. He awakened his bed-fellow, told him what he had seen, and immediately his wind was at ease. This, my dear H., is the substance of the account J. M. gave me. I believe it just as firmly as that I have this pen in my hand. You know very well the effects of it were visible in his after life and conversation."
The portion of this letter already quoted is interesting on various accounts; but it is here given chiefly because of M'Cartney's description of what appears to have been the phenomenon of ignis fatuus which he had seen at the grave of Cameron, is magnified by his excited imagination. His report of this to Hyslop seems to have reminded him of the chariot of fire in which Elijah ascended to heaven, and suggested the beautiful imagery with which the "Cameronian Dream" concludes:—
When the righteous had fallen and the combat had ended,
A chariot of fire through the dark clouds descended;
The drivers were angels, on horses of whiteness;
And its burning wheels turned upon axles of brightness.
A seraph unfolded its doors, bright and shining,
All dazzling like gold of the seventh refining;
And the souls, that came forth out of great tribulation,
Have mounted the chariot and steeds of salvation.
On the arch of the rainbow the chariot is gliding;
Through the paths of the thunder the horsemen are riding.
Glide swiftly, bright spirits! the prize is before ye—
A crown never-fading, a kingdom of glory."
The remainder of the letter describes a visit to the scenes where young Hyslop fed his flock, read poetry, and indulged those musings which afterwards were embodied in a poetical form when he began to write poetry of his own. He says:—
"On my way from Glasgow to Sanquhar, along with a friend, I visited the Through-stane last summer. The appearance of the place is wofully changed. The beautiful green leas of Nether Wellwood, where we used to lie and read while our lambs were feeding on the 'fragrant flowrie swaird,' have all been tortured by, the tearing plough. The gowanie brae at the side o' Palwharnie Burn, where we read Ossian's poems, and wunnart how they could be poems because they didna metre, was not to be distinguished from the red earth around it. Here and there I saw a solitary shepherd boy following the charge that once was ours, playfully sporting with his little dog, or lying among the heather pu' in' strawberries. One little boy I met with of a most interesting character — He was happet aneath his grey plaid, in the beild of a green rash-buss. He had been reading, for when I came up he closed a wee pocket Bible. I imagined he had been weeping, for his eyes were wet. I inquired after his little history, and where his parents lived. 'My father an' mither are baith dead,' said he; 'an' I hae naebody to leuk to me but my maister an' mistress; but they're unco kill' to me. Yonder is the place where my father stay't; it gars me aye greet when I look at it. That was my father's Bible; there the psalm they sang that nicht he dee't. I'm aye vext when I read the Psalms; I used to say them to my father on the Sabbath nichts, when he tell't me an' my wee brithers it he was soon gaun to dee, an' gart us aye fa' to the greetin'; but he bade us dight our e'en an' no greet, for if we sought the Almighty, he wad be a father to us when he was dead and gane.'"
This letter is dated, "Logan Banks, March, 1820." There are several streams in Scotland of the name of Logan; but as the writer had gone from Glasgow to Dumfriesshire, taking Wellwood on his way, the one here referred to must be that in the parish of Kirkpatrick-Fleming, in Dumfriesshire. This rivulet is celebrated in song. Mr. John Mayne has a ballad on it, beginning — "By Logan's streams, that rin sae deep;" in one of the verses of which he alludes to a chapel which once stood in the vale of Logan—
Nae mair at Logan Kirk will he,
Atween the preachings meet wi' me;
Meet wi' me, and when it's mirk,
Convoy me hame frae Logan Kirk.
Robert Burns, too, has a song on "Logan Braes," of which the first stanza is
O, Logan, sweetly did'st thou glide
That day I was my Willie's bride!
And years sinsyne hae o'er us run,
Like Logan to the simmer sun.
But now thy flowery banks appear
Like drumlie winter, dark and drear,
While my dear lad maun face his faes,
Far, far frae me and Logan Braes.
Burns admired the concluding couplet, and adopted it from Mayne.
By a few strokes, Hyslop places his pen-portrait fully before the reader, as we have quoted it. It is an orphan in service, — receiving cordial sympathy and many acts of kindness from both master and mistress, — a grateful heart acknowledging a sympathy and kindness beyond what is common among men, — and a youth of tender years warmly cherishing the memory of pious parents, whose loss he deeply deplores. Here are the materials for a poem; and Hyslop's story has stirred the muse of an Ayrshire poetess, Miss Marion Paul Aird, of Kilmarnock, who has given expression to her musings on it in a poem entitled, "The Herd Laddie." She has adorned the story by her genius; and I quote her poem here that the reader may have the opportunity of comparing it with the original story:
A herd laddie sat, in his plaidie o'grey,
'Neath the beild o'a bush in the howe o' a brae,
On the moss-theekit stump o' an auld aiken tree
By a wee wimpl in' burnie that sang to the sea,
And silvered the hem o' a bonnie green knowe,
Where the broom-bush, and breckan, and primroses grow:
As wee stars that glimmer like sprinklins o'gowd,
As they blink through the blue o' the grey e'ening cloud,
His sheep lay besprent on the green mountain's breast,
As white as the snaw-cleeded gowan they prest—
Where the lammies were bleatin' an' jumpin' wi' glee,
An' nibblin' the gowan that spangled the lea;
Noo laughin' an' dancin' like youth's mornin' wave,
Ere it wanders an' yaummers awa' to the grave....
The herd laddie doffed his wee bonnet, an' smiled,
But a tear in his dark e'e, my heart near him wyled,
Like an amber bead, trickled adown his brown cheek,
Clear as pearlins o' dewdraps that glanced at his feet.
I said — "Wee herd laddie, what maks you sae wae,
A' nature around you is smilin' an' gay;
Come, tell me your story, I'll sit by your side—
What book's that you're hidin' aneath the grey plaid?
Are ye cauld? — are ye hungry? — is't far frae your hame?
—Hae ye faither or mither?" He sighed — "I hae nane.
Yon bonnie cot house in the lap o' the glen,
When a bairnie, I toddled its but an' its ben;
When I leuk till't I greet — for that ance was my hame.
Noo faither an' mither an' help I hae nane;
Syne the nicht faither dee't gushes back to my mind,
Though maister an' mistress to me are fu' kind;
An' there is the psalm round his bed that we sung;
I hear his last words drappin' yet frae his tongue.
O, the tears happit fast frae his dim closin' e'e!
When he blest us, an' tauld us his bairns he maun lea'e;
An' that is his Bible he gied me, an' said—
'Mind your Father in heaven, my bairns, when I'm dead.'
When my wee brithers grat round the auld elbow chair—
For he learned us the Psalms on the Sabbath e'en there;
An' we kneeled on that hearthstane where uncos noo meet;
When I think I've nae hame, oh! what wonder I greet.
But I leuk to the skies, an' I ken there is Ane
Wha Ides me an' guides me, tho' on earth I hae nane."
Oh! the heart that ne'er warms for the faitherless bairn
Is hard is a mill stane, an' cauld as the airn;
Oh! daut them an' cleed them wi' mitherly care—
They are nurslings o' heaven — oh! nurse them wi' prayer.
III. — THE CORSEBANK SHEPHERD.
The poems which Hyslop composed at Wellwood appear not to have been committed to writing at the time when they were composed, probably from the want of writing .materials; and the date of his first written poem is the year he left Wellwood. When the period of his engagement there was elided, he returned to the neighbourhood of Sanquhar, not to Wee Carco, but to Corsebank, or Crossbank, this place being a little further up the Crawick than Wee Carco. His engagement here for two years (1816 to 1818) embraced the last of his shepherd life; after which he became a schoolmaster. During the two years he lived at Corsebank he appears to have been particularly active in the way of self-improvement. Mr. Muir says, in a letter to Mr. Rodger: — "It was while the poet was a shepherd at Corsebank that he acquired the system of shorthand writing which was peculiar to himself, as you must know if you have ever seen it. The farmer — the lamented Mr. John Laidlaw, who carried with him to his grave many interesting anecdotes of Hyslop's struggles at that time to acquire what he desired more than wealth, namely, learning — behaved to him more like a friend or brother than a kind master, and with the example, influence, and advice of 'Corsy,' he was much benefited. Mr. Laidlaw was one of the most active and intelligent of farmers, of whom there were not a few then in that district." The young poet attended evening classes for writing, arithmetic, algebra, Greek, and Latin, and received much attention from his friend, Mr. Jonathan Dawson of Kirkconnel. He conned his lessons during the day, and he long walks to and from school in the evening. To his early struggles at Kirkconnel, Wellwood, and Corsebank, Mr. John MacDiarmid refers, in an admirable sketch which appeared in the "Dumfries Courier," when the news of his death reached this country. Mr. MacDiarmid says: — "Mr. James Hyslop, our meritorious countryman, was a native of, and an honour to, Kirkconnel, near Sanquhar. Like Murray, Halliday, and a host of others, he owed almost everything to his own exertions. While the favourites of fortune were busy with their tasks, Hyslop was tending his master's cows, and merely went to school during the 'dead of the year.' At the age of fourteen he became a shepherd, and while following that pleasant employment had ample leisure for study and reflection. We are told by an amiable English philosopher that 'the volume of nature is the book of knowledge,' and a French one adds, 'genius will educate itself, and, like flame, burst through all obstruction.' And so it fared with the lamented deceased. What he missed at school he found by his own unassisted efforts on the lonely moor or the bleak hill-side, with his dog at his feet, a book in his hand, and his hirsel peacefully grazing around him. The changes of the seasons, even as indicated by the stunted verdure of his native hills — sunrise and sunset, witnessed as regularly as the day came round — the summer's heat and the winter's cold-rain, wind, frost, and snow — the lightnings as they flashed, and the thunders as they rolled — the whole phenomena of external nature — were the elements his muse lived and fed on; and hence the poetical cast of his genius, and hence, too, those fervent feelings of piety (caught by looking from nature up to nature's God) which marked the whole of his brief career. His compositions in verse, though merely recited, and rarely reduced to a written form, attracted considerable local notice. His friends and acquaintances took a great interest in him, and recommended the study of the Latin language as the best means of correcting the deficiencies of his education. To work therefore he set with irrepressible diligence; and, though nearly self-taught, soon became a very fair scholar."
The year after James Hyslop left Corsebank he sent anonymously his first "Specimens of Scottish Poetry" to Dr. Morehead, the editor of the "Edinburgh Magazine;" and the two pieces sent appeared in the magazine for October, 1819. In a prefatory note, alluding to the author as self-taught, he says: — "Though born a peasant in the upland wilds of Dumfriesshire, and obliged, even in early life, to support himself by the sweat of his brow, he has, by dint of perseverance, taught himself English, Latin, and French, and has also acquired a knowledge far from contemptible even of mathematics and algebra. The author is quite a youth, and although his extreme modesty prevents his worth from being at present known, yet to the eyes of his friends at least, he gives the promise of future distinction; nor are his morals and piety inferior to his genius." As the two pieces sent relate, the one to Spango and the other to Crawick, the poet explains that "Crawick is a beautiful rivulet which falls in to the Nith, a little above Sanquhar, on the braes of which the author spent his boyhood in tending sheep. Spango is a mountain streamlet, which, by joining the Wanlock, on which are situated the lead mines of Wanlockhead, forms the Crawick."
Mr. Dawson, when living in Greenock, one day showed Mr. Rodger Hyslop's algebra book, on the front of which Hyslop had written his name; and Mr. Dawson related the following anecdote regarding it. The book happened to be on the grandfather's table in Kirkconnel when the minister was calling on his elder. The minister lifted the book and said, "What are you going to make of the boy?" "I dinna ken," replied the old man; "he has great pairts, but what can I do for him?" "Send him to the plough," said the minister: "do not let him trouble himself with these, things." The schoolmaster in that parish seems to have been a wiser man than the minister; for Mr. Dawson had the merit of early discovering the superior abilities of the youth, and gave him all encouragement to prosecute his studies. In some cases the advice of the minister might be good; as when a youth aspires to a position for which he has no proper qualifications; but in this case the judgment was rash, and deserves censure from being pronounced in ignorance of the lad's superior ability. It might have proved a heavy blow and sore discouragement to some youths, but it had no such effect on the mind of Hyslop. When it was reported to him he said meekly, "It is perhaps good advice." But in narrating the matter afterwards to his friend and teacher, Mr. Dawson, he said, "The minister's words made me the more resolute to follow out my studies, whether at the plough, or wherever else it might be." He would have been glad of a little encouragement, but he resolved to go on without it. He was cheered by the kind words of his teacher at Kirkconnel and his master at Corsebank. The lines to Lydia — "Oft in the dark and silent night" — were written at Corsebank in 1817.
In the beginning of his first year at Corsebank he wrote a poetical letter to Mr. Dawson, which is understood to be the first poem he committed to writing. It is dated "Crossbank, April 18th, 1816. "It is found among Mr. Rodger's papers in a revised form; but I quote it here from Mr. Hyslop's own writing in the letter which is now before me.
Though Spring returns, yet gloomy Winter reigns
In rage tyrannic over Nature's face;
No flowers are seen in all his dark domains,
The beauties of the Spring he doth efface.
Instead of soft returning vernal showers,
To bathe the earth and make her fruits to grow,
O'er the bleak heath the wintry tempest roars,
And nought appears around but driving snow.
The wintry clouds obscure the face of heaven;
The feathered tribe in silence dumb do rest
Over the plain the drifted snows are driven
While every mark of vegetation's lost.
The little lambs, that wont to sport and play
In Spring's gay morn before the shepherd's eye,
Cut off, alas! in morning of their day,
Along the drifted snow their corses lie.
Poor little creatures! there you lie at rest!
Your little cries no more your mothers hear!
No more with cold and hunger you're opprest;
The Winter's storms no more you have to fear.
Ah! cruel Winter, wilt thou ne'er relent?
Thy savage fury wilt thou ne'er restrain?
Methinks those gloomy months might thee content,
By Providence allotted to thy reign.
Methinks the tender Spring might stop thy wrath;
Thou to the harmless lambs might'st pity show;
But thou, like to thy elder brother Death,
Mercy nor pity thou didst never know.
Thou too, like him, art but commissioned — sent
To serve the will of Providence divine;
Then surely mortal man should be content,
And at Eternal Wisdom ne'er repine.
Dear sir! though friends are by affliction tried
And some, perhaps, on death-beds lowly laid;
I trust their trouble shall be sanctified,
That fitter still for Heaven they may be made.
This mortal life, tho' they must bid adieu,
Their bodies mingle with their native clay;
The soul a happier life shall then renew,
And hail the dawn of an eternal day.
As feathered songsters sweetly do arise,
After the vernal showers dispel the snow,
The happy soul shall hail its native skies,
When freed from trouble in this world below.
Guarded by angels o'er the heavenly plains,
'Twill mount into the Paradise of God;
And in that place, where love eternal reigns,
It will for ever fix its bless'd abode.
I write to you as to my only friend;
I know you're one on whom I can depend.
The allusion to death in the concluding verses was occasioned by a bereavement in Mr. Dawson's home. After Mr. Dawson had removed to Greenock he gave this letter to the late Mr. Rodger, his friend, when the latter was preparing a sketch of Mr. Hyslop's life; and I am indebted to Mr. Rodger's son, Mr. W. W. B. Rodger, of Bagatelle, for a perusal of it. In the signature to the letter, the poet spells his name "Hislop," though he afterwards adopted "Hyslop," which was the spelling common among his relatives of the same name. Mr. Dawson has endorsed the letter — "Received this favour on the 19th April, 1816. J. Dawson." The appendix to the letter is occupied with the solution of questions in algebra.
IV. — THE SCHOOLMASTER.
Mr. Hyslop was happy in his shepherd life, but he laboured assiduously to qualify himself for some literary work which was likely to prove more congenial to his tastes. To use his own words: "At the expense of many a toilsome day and sleepless night, he independently fought his way through ten thousand difficulties to the dearest object of his wishes — his education." That he composed poetry at Wellwood, and recited it to his friends, is certain; but it is not certain that he then committed it to writing. If composed thus early, he probably revised and improved his pieces previous to their publication. His friend John M'Cartney, at Wellwood, composed a poem of sixty lines on the "Auld Mare" of a neighbouring farmer; and about twenty years ago, on a visit to Ayrshire, it was recited to me by one who had committed it to memory many years before, and my friend told me that he believed it was never committed to writing. "The Cameronian Dream" probably suggested itself to Hyslop at Wellwood, but it was not printed till 1821, when he was teacher of a school in Greenock. He went to Greenock, in the end of 1818, in the hope of improving his circumstances in a pecuniary point of view, and thus recommending himself to a young woman whose social position was superior to his own, and for whom he had entertained a sincere and strong affection for several years. He calls her "Lydia," and "Annie," in his love songs, but her real name was Susan. It was believed that their affection was mutual, and she remained unmarried while he lived; but after his early death she became the wife of another.
Mr. Rodger, who was personally acquainted with the young schoolmaster while in Greenock, thus describes him as he came to that town: — "It is now more than twenty years ago that a young man of interesting appearance came down from his native hills, in the uplands of Dumfriesshire, to push his fortune in one of the ports upon the shores of the Clyde. He came in the full buoyancy of youthful spirits and conscious genius, fired with the spirit of adventure, and confident in his own
natural energies. He was tall, and of an agreeable countenance, with dark, intelligent eyes, and a pensive turn of expression; but it was through his conversation principally that he won the regard of those who became acquainted with him. In this there was a freshness (flowing from the union of real genius with self-education) and an absence of that mannerism which is so peculiar to the more artificially polished and informed, and withal a degree of modesty and gentleness, which at once excited interest, and awakened a desire to know somewhat of his history. This was James Hyslop, the, Muirkirk Shepherd."
Other statements regarding Mr. Hyslop's personal appearance may be here quoted. It is remarkable that in a, matter so likely to be remembered as the colour of his eyes, the eye-witnesses do not agree. In a letter to me in 1880, the Rev. J. H. Scott, of Sanquhar, says that Mr. M'Dowall, of Kirkconnel, had told him that in height the poet was about 5 feet 10 inches, and very handsome, with fair complexion. Mr. M'Dowall used to call him "the bonnie man." He says that he had light blue eyes. Mr. A. B. Todd, of Cumnock, in a letter to me in 1876, says: — "Mrs. M'Cron, one of my tenants, whose father, Mr. Howatson, was laird of Cronberry farm in Airsmoss, knew Hyslop well: he was two years her senior, and taught when a youth in her father's family. He was, she says, a most excellent and exemplary person of fully the average height, and like David of old, the youthful poet of Bethlehem, 'of a ruddy countenance,' but with fine black hair, and was altogether 'a real braw lad.' Mrs. Scott, another of my tenants, sister to Mr. William Haddow, of Rigfoot, also knew him well when he was young and about Dalblair. She was then in the Shaw; and, as the two farms marched, she saw him often on the hill, and nearly always with a book."
In a letter dated January 28, 1819, and addressed to Mr. Jonathan Dawson, of Kirkconnel, to whom he owed so much in his early efforts at education, Hyslop thus expressed, partly in prose and partly in poetry, his loneliness in Greenock, and his sense of separation from the friends of his youth: — "I have taken this opportunity of sending you a few lines to inform you that I am in good spirits. How are you getting on with your teaching? I was sorry at being disappointed of receiving a visit from you. It is a pleasure that I seldom enjoy here — conversing with my friends. It brings a secret pleasure to the heart to enjoy, even for a few minutes, conversation on the most unimportant subject, if it be connected with the idea of the home and the friends of early life. Sometimes, amidst the continued bustle in which I am now involved, my heart has almost lost sight of one whose idea once lay deeply engraven there. But the mind alters. I could not have supposed once that ever the feelings that were once so warm would have turned so cold. What can be the reason of this? Can it be on account of the succession of new images that are always floating in confusion upon the mind? What I think a more natural reason is, the want of companions to recall those happy sensations with renewed vigour in conversation. Yes, my dear Jonathan, this is undoubtedly the case — my heart tells me it is. I feel my bosom beginning to assume a different temperature since I began to write to you. 'Busy meddling memory musters up the past endearments of those fonder hours.' My heart, that has been for some time in a kind of stupid insensibility, is now warm with the remembrance of other days! Dear
Jonathan! there is one — can I forget her? — my heart almost tells me I had forgotten. But the loved idea now rushes on my mind with renewed vigour. Love! thou fleeting vision at the dear remembrance of other days! thou canst again bring my heart to the warm train of feeling with which, perhaps, thou hast too often filled it. But thou art treacherous — thou wast almost asleep. But at the voice of friendship thou again awakest! What am I saying, my dear sir? Is there still one that, like you, when I am far away, cherishes the dear remembrance of Hyslop? Perhaps there may — she once did so. Does she think I have forgotten her? O, my dear Jonathan! there are hours when every other thought is hushed, and my heart indulges in the loved remembrance. But perhaps this is folly. You will be informed should my heart be wounded by broken hopes." Here the writer interrupted his letter on account of the arrival of the hour when he required to go out to an evening party. When he returned after midnight, he resumed the subject of his letter, and filled his sheet, interspersing verses of impromptu poetry, as his heart fondly turned to a loved one far away, though the verses were evidently never meant for the public eye. He said — "Do you know the romantic scene where first I saw her? It was enchanting.
Bright was the summer scene;
Dark was the bower of green;
Lovely the maid was seen
Culling red flowers;
Soft eyes of darkening hue
Beam'd yellow ringlets through;
My heart at the witching view
Asked for hers.
He then turned to the absent loved one, and said, Dear girl,
While o'er us the summer flew,
Each time I met with you,
Early acquaintance grew
Warmer and kinder;
Soon did the eye display
What the young heart would say,
Thoughts that concealed lay
Stolen looks made tender."
This letter is interesting, as furnishing evidence that Hyslop's love songs are no mere attempt at the expression of poetic feeling, but the utterance of sincere and deep affection.
Mr. Rodger describes the circumstances in which Mr. Hyslop entered on his duties as teacher in Greenock in his twenty-first year: — "His fame was not yet abroad; and, coming amongst strangers, he found difficulties to be encountered which he had not anticipated — which the fostering regard of those who had known him in the humble sphere of his commencement, and had seen him meritoriously working his way upward, had indeed prevented him from knowing. He went to work, however, and succeeded in getting a school-room and a few scholars;
and in a short time he became known to a few young men of similar literary predilections with himself; but his knowledge and views of the society he had ventured upon were as yet not a little imperfect. The attributes of riches he had set down in his mind too much according to what he had found in certain of the ancient poets, and he had yet to learn that men of wealth and leisure, disposing of themselves in the cultivation of taste and the fostering of genius, should not be looked for in the marts of trade, where men of wealth congregate for commercial enterprise, and are studious to inculcate that every penny of capital that is not put out, so as to produce increase of its kind, is thrown away, not only to him to whom it belonged, but also to his country. Amongst such everything must bend to some practical end in business: deserving talent is far from being disesteemed by them; but unless it happen to show itself on exchange, or at the counting-desk, they are not ready to discern it."
The same writer, in his manuscript memoir of Hyslop, gives a few additional particulars, which deserve to be recorded here, as revealing the disappointment and distress which befel him in Greenock, and which are alluded to in his poetry. Mr. Rodger says: — "He succeeded in getting a ready-furnished school-room and a class which, according to his expectations at the time, became remunerative. His school-room was in the attics of a three-storey house that stands on the northern-most corner of Tobago and Sir Michael Streets. He prospered, however, only for a short time. Before the end of two years we find him in great distress and embarrassment. This was brought upon him by a person somewhat older than himself, whose natural talents were above mediocrity, who had had far more school education than Hyslop, who had had a considerable amount of money spent upon him in his earlier days, and who, the very reverse of being desired, had come down at the same time with Hyslop from his native hills. By this time he succeeded in inveigling Hyslop into some securityship or other which, though not for a very large amount, as matters of this kind are reckoned among merchants, was ruinous to Hyslop. The latter fame of this man was of a piece with the mean insidiousness which he thus served out upon Hyslop; but I will not revive his name." Mr. Rodger does not mention the name of this heartless fellow; nor would it be desirable, if known, to record the name of such a vampire who brought unspeakable distress on an amiable and gifted, but too confiding youth. Mr. Rodger continues: — "This inveiglement was particularly disastrous to Hyslop. It overthrew all the hopes that had buoyed him up in leaving his native hills and coming to the banks of the Clyde. It affected his fame as an author and his good name as a teacher. He had by this time obtained the position of a favourite contributor to the 'Edinburgh Magazine,' his first contribution to it having been dated Greenock, October, 1819; he had also succeeded in his teaching so as to warrant prospects in matrimony that a continuance and advancement of these successes would possibly have led to the realisation of; but, for the moment, his bright prospects were blasted. His first thoughts were for his 'Annie,' which was a feigned name for a real individual. In his despair he wrote 'To Anna.'
Think not of me, thou lovely one,
Who oft hast lain upon my breast,
To know my health and hopes are gone
Would only break thy bosom's rest.
Yet thou must know, my kindest maid,
And breathe for me thy fondest prayer,
Thy early love is lowly laid,
Weary with sickness, grief, and care.
His first distraction was caused by the overthrow of his hopes. Then came certain harsh dealings with him on the part of his landlord — a man whose own thoughts and feelings were such that it was not in him to understand the character he was dealing with, else I am persuaded that his treatment of him would have been different. The tenant was threatened with a prison. The very idea of this threat being carried into effect so magnified itself in his sensitive nature as to drive him to despair. He was away from his lodgings in consequence of it for a few days. He was out among the hills, near to Inverkip, where he was kindly treated; and, after breathing the mountain air among the shepherds and farmers, he returned much calmed. In his despair he had sung the 'Prisoner's Song'—
Among Nith's green hills I ha'e herdit sheep,
By its heathery braes and its moorlan' waters;
Altho' I was but a shepherd laddie,
My love was the fairest o' Nithsdale's daughters.
Wi' you I ha'e lain on Nith's gowany braes,
Where the green birks were hangin' aboon the waters;
Now far frae thae scenes o' oor early days,
I maun lie in a prison 'mong chains and fetters.
It was about this time that I became acquainted with Mr. Hyslop. He was of prepossessing appearance and address, and although evidently somewhat emaciated by his recent hardships, his person still evidenced the accuracy of what I subsequently heard in his native district as to his fine and athletic person and great physical energies. His literary effusions up till this time were all from subjects of his own immediate experience and observation. His Greenock sufferings had entered into some of those that were sent to Edinburgh, and he was waited on by the agent of the publisher, and kindly encouraged."
"The Edinburgh Magazine," to which Hyslop contributed, was published by Archibald Constable & Company; and the first contribution, as already stated, appeared in the number for October, 1819 — about a year after he went to Greenock. Mr. Rodger says that this contribution was dated from Greenock, but this is a slip, for neither the place nor the date is appended. The letter is sent by "a constant reader," who withholds his name; and the poetry which it introduces has neither name nor signature appended to it. A second communication, which was also without date or signature, appeared in December of that year, to which the Editor prefixed some remarks on poetry, which gave offence to Hyslop, and his reply appeared in the following number. This reply was dated from Greenock, and thus indicated the authorship of all the three communications. The first contribution embraced two pieces — "Annie," and "Lament for Willie." In December two more appeared — "Kintra Jock," and "To my dear Lassie far away." To this second communication Dr. Morehead prefixed a few remarks which require to be quoted in order that we may see the force of Hyslop's spirited reply. The Editor said that the specimens of Scottish poetry were "composed by a young man, who, in an inferior rank of life, had been indebted to his own exertions for attainments of no common order." They seemed to him "indicative of an elegant genius;" but he did not publish them with a view of encouraging their author to make poetry his vocation. The Editor adds, — "We have no wish to excite this ingenious and ingenuous youth to pursue a trade which is in most cases so unprofitable, and success in which is so uncertain. It is difficult and somewhat cruel to cheek a poetical vein; nor will it do to say to a young poet that there is no harm in his writing for his own amusement, but that it is idle for him to seek for public applause. No person yet ever had pleasure in his own verses, without fancying them such as might be generally admired; and hence we find that most writers of poetry end in publishing. It may be enough, however, to mention that, at present, the candidates for this species of distinction are so numerous, and many of them so eminent, that, without a very uncommon bent of genius, it is more prudent not to enter into competition with them. A volume of middling or unpopular poetry lowers the reputation of the most acknowledged talents; and there is often a great waste of time and ability in this seducing employment, which might be turned to much more advantageous and not less elevated ends. The success of Scottish poetry, in particular, must, at the best, be very limited, and confined within but a narrow circle. Burns is an exception — perhaps Hogg — but the very circumstance of their eminence, while it has prompted many to follow in their track, prevents in general the pretensions of these from being so much as noticed."
Most literary aspirants at the early age of twenty-one would have felt this criticism to be a heavy blow and sore discouragement, and would have remained silent under the galling infliction. But young Hyslop was too conscious of his literary and poetical power to hesitate for a moment to enter the lists even with so proved and powerful an antagonist as Dr. Morehead. He not only made his defence, but assailed the opinions of the Editor in his own pages. And he found the Editor an honourable opponent; for he not only inserted the "Defence of Scottish Poetry" in his next number, but also acknowledged the triumphant character of the reply, and publicly solicited the continuance of his valued contributions. The Editor said: — "We had no intention to stir the indignation of our Scottish poet by the remarks with which we prefaced his verses in our last number; but we cannot regret that we have clone so, since we have roused him, like the great Sir Philip Sydney, to write 'a defence of poesie.' What he has written is too interesting to be omitted, even if we were not called in justice to insert it; and we hope he will accept this notice as an 'amende honourable,' and favour us with more of his communications, in prose or verse, as he likes best. Let him pursue in either, or in both, the fine theme of the superstitions, and the still finer one of the genuine piety, of his country. He is quite right in saying that Burns has missed a noble occasion for the exercise of his great powers and pathos. The blank has of late been partly supplied in prose, and in a tone of much true feeling, by — 'the lad we darena name.'"
The reader will now be prepared to receive Mr. Hyslop's spirited "Defence." He said: — "In your magazines for October and December last, where some poetical trifles of mine were introduced to the public, my friend and you have made some remarks on me and them at which I am rather hurt. The one of you would encourage me in the study of poetry, the other would have me forswear it. I don't much like to stand still in this passive posture, the object of public contemplation, and be almost shuffled out of countenance between you. I hope I shall, therefore, be excused for stepping forward and speaking for myself, and I trust you will be so good as to insert this, or some thing like it, in a corner of your next magazine. You seem to have affixed a great deal more importance to my poetical existence than is at all necessary; and, out of the abundance of your kindness, you have been under no small alarm lest from the encouragement you have given me I should be induced to make poetry my vocation. Now, I would have you keep yourself perfectly easy on that score. Poetry never was, and I daresay never will be, my vocation; but it has been, and I hope will continue to be, one of my most delightful amusements. I must likewise tell you that my opinions of Scottish poetry are very different from yours. It seems you would have us Scottish youths renounce for ever the profane and unprofitable art of poem-making, as it stands denominated, highly to his credit, no doubt, in the session-book of some respectable minister. The idea of profit might have some influence on such as run the risk of losing a fortune, or of being excommunicated for paying their adoration to the Muses. But do you imagine that one who is indebted to the world for nothing else but his existence, who, at the expense of many a toilsome day and sleepless night, has independently fought his way through ten thousand difficulties to the dearest object of his wishes, his education, do you think that he would part with the 'harp that he found in the breckan glen,' which had been the companion of his joys and the soother of his sorrows, when unnoticed and friendless he followed his flocks through the parching drought of summer, and the whirling drifts of the winter? Would he part with the faithful companion of his early days for all the profits the world could hold out to him? By heavens! the very thought would be sacrilege. It would be selling his birthright for a mess of pottage.
"You seem to think that the sphere of our Scottish poetry must now be very contracted. I beg leave to differ from you there also. Had you spent as many Sabbath days among the Scottish peasantry as I have done, I daresay you would join with me in thinking that there is yet an extensive field for the cultivation of a higher order of poetry than much that has ever yet appeared in our language. The popular superstitions, too, that are still current among the peasantry of Nithsdale and Ayrshire, would of themselves furnish an abundant supply of awful materials for the fancy of a skilful poet. Who that has ever heard of the fairies of Polveoch or Glenmuir, the dead lights carried by dead men that have been seen among the haunted woods of Garpal or Crawick, the fiery coach that appeared at midnight at the grave of the murdered Cameron in Airsmoss, the spectre that vanished in blood near the Wellwood, in the parish of Muirkirk, and hundreds more of the same kind that might be enumerated; who, I say, that has heard of these, and has been familiar with the characters and feelings of the people among whom they are cherished, will deny that such dreadful familiarity with the beings of another world has communicated to them an elevation and sublimity of mind highly poetical, perhaps not unfavourable to the cultivation of religion, as more awful conceptions must thus be produced of that Being 'who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire?'
"But even allowing that the fields of Scottish poetry are mostly cultivated, they are not impoverished; and it might perhaps be advisable, in imitation of our farmers, to try what kind of poetical harvest might be produced by a change of crop. It is very certain that the subjects of some of our most admired Scottish poems are far from being exhausted. They may be viewed in a great variety of lights, according to the humour of the poet's feelings. To mention one particular instance, how different a poem would Burns have produced had he carried the spirit of the Cottar's Saturday Night into the morning of his sacramental Sabbath! The poem would certainly have appeared to as much advantage, and the respectability of the Scottish character and religion might, perhaps, have been more indebted to him. As it is, however, he has left abundant room for the display of future talent; and I think it is to be wished that some mighty genius equal to the task would step forward and mingle at once the social and religious feelings of the Scottish peasantry in the poetry of our native land."
The rest of the paper is occupied with the description of a communion service in the churchyard of Kirkconnel or Sanquhar. The ministers that usually assisted at Kirkconnel communion about the time referred to were Mr. Lindsay of Auchinleck, and Mr. Thomson of Ochiltree. "It is not easy (he continues) to conceive anything more solemn than the manner in which a Sacrament is conducted in the upland parishes of Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire, or than the wild and commanding eloquence of some of our most distinguished preachers. I shall never forget the alarming address that one of them gave to his congregation at the commencement of the more immediate service of the day. It was in the sultry heat of summer, and the congregation were assembled around the tent in the churchyard. The first table was just filled, and at the head of it, beside the consecrated elements, stood the venerable servant of God. He had just finished reading the appropriated verses of the 116th Psalm to be sung, after the example of our Saviour, on the night of institution, when suddenly the breathless silence of the congregation was broken by a terrible clap of thunder. As soon as it was hushed, impressed with an awful sense of a present God, he addressed his audience to the following effect: 'My friends, how dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God and the gate of heaven. He before whom we must appear in judgment, from His pavilion of dark waters and thick clouds clouds of the skies, in a voice of thunder is now addressing us who are assembled round His table. And I have no doubt that if the thin veil by which we are separated from the invisible world were drawn aside, we might discover among those dark clouds, where the thunder is rolling, the throne of Him from before whose face the earth and the heavens shall flee away. We might behold, on the mountains around us, the bright armies of heaven drawn up in their shining ranks under the banners of the King of Righteousness. We might behold those who have joined with us at this table, whose graves are now rising green beneath our feet, but whose spirits are in glory, I say, we might behold them looking upon us with heavenly joy and satisfaction while we join ourselves unto the Lord in an everlasting covenant never to be forgotten.' After such an address, how awfully sublime was the devotion, when the assembled multitudes were singing, to the wild and simple melody that awakens all the sacramental associations of departed years, as the elements were about to be distributed,
I'll of salvation take the cup,
On God's name will I call:
I'll pay my vows now to the Lord,
Before His people all.
This is only a rude, imperfect sketch of some of the awful and sublime sensations that are familiar to the inhabitants of my native mountains on the yearly return of a communion Sabbath; and, while such subjects remain unsung, shall it ever be said that the poetry of Scotland is susceptible of no further improvement? Our bosoms have often trembled with delight at the soft and melting music of the Scottish harp, when struck by the hands of a powerful master; but we shall never be sensible of the highest powers of its heart-thrilling melody till its wild notes be sounded in concert and unison with the songs of Zion.
Greenock, 8th Jan., 1820."
Mr. Hyslop's next contribution to the magazine was in prose, and appeared in April, 1820, and was entitled, "Account of an Apparition in Airsmoss." Of this we have given an account in a previous page of this sketch. His next contribution was poetical, having for its title, "Scottish Imitation of a Passage in Tasso's Aminta." It is dated "Greenock, 10th May, 1820," and signed "J. H.;" and it appeared in the June number. There is a reference to this "Scottish Imitation" in a review of "Leigh Hunt's Translation of Tasso's Amyntas," which appeared in the September number of the same magazine. The following is Leigh Hunt's translation of the passage used by Hyslop:
—So saying, she applied
To the hurt cheek the lips of her divine.
And most delicious mouth, and with sweet humming
Murmured some verses that I know not of.
Oh, admirable effect! a little while
And all the pain was gone: either by virtue
Of these enchanted words, or, as I thought,
By virtue of those lips of dew,
That heal whate'er they turn them to.
I, who till then had never had a wish
Beyond the sunny sweetness of her eyes,
Or her dear dulcet words, more dulcet far
Than the soft murmur of a humming stream
Crooking its way among the pebble-stones,
Or summer airs that babble in the leaves,
Felt a new wish move in me to apply
This mouth of mine to hers; and so, becoming
Crafty and plotting (an unusual art
With me, but it was love's intelligence),
I did bethink me of a gentle stratagem
To work out my new wit I made pretence,
As if the bee had bitten my under lip;
And fell to lamentations of such sort
That the sweet medicine, which I dared not ask
With word of mouth, I asked for with my looks.
The simple Sylvia then,
Compassioning my pain,
Offered to give me help
To that pretended wound;
And, oh! the real and the mortal wound
Which pierced into my being
When her lips came on mine.
Never did bee from flower
Suck sugar so divine
As was the honey that I gathered then
From those twin roses fresh.
I could have bathed in them my burning kisses,
But fear and shame withheld.
This beautiful passage acquires fresh beauty and point in Hyslop's hands, as may be seen by comparing it with his poem.
In the "Edinburgh Magazine" for August, 1820, Hyslop published a short poem, signed "H., Greenock." It is a "Scottish Imitation of the Fifth Ode of the First Book of Horace." On the same page of the magazine are lines "To Lydia," with the same signature.
The next contribution, a combination of prose and poetry, appeared in the October magazine, the date being, "Greenock, September, 1820." The poetical pieces are "Despair," and "The Prisoner's Song." The prose portion gives some curious information regarding apparitions of the Prince of Fallen Spirits, and of the spirits ruled by him, which were firmly believed in by the people of Nithsdale in former times, and the belief was not confined to them. Mr. Hyslop says that "the banks of Crawick, in particular, seem to have been inhabited with devils in former ages, if we may place any reliance on the traditions still current among its hoary-headed chroniclers. One good reason assigned for their being so numerous in this place is, that the people then dwelling by the streams of Crawick were so rigidly religious, so proof against all the temptations of the evil one, that it was quite a hopeless attempt for any one devil to keep his credit among them. It was customary for the evil spirit at nightfall, when the milkmaids were returning with their pails of milk on their heads, to assume the appearance of a certain notorious character, then lately buried, and grin ingloriously at them over the kirkyard dyke. The consequence was that the poor frightened maidens, imagining that it was the auld man risen from the grave to seize upon them and devour them bodily, ran home with such precipitation, that they spilled all their milk, and left their unearthly enemy in possession of the field, and not unfrequently of the milk-pails. One night he came outside, and ran after the skirling maidens; but they got safe on the other side of the running stream. The milkmaids alarmed the whole town of Say-na-quhair with the report that the dead man was risen from the grave. A consultation of the minister and elders was immediately held, to take into consideration what was best to be done. At last it was agreed upon that the minister, who was famous for working miracles, along with some more good men, should attend in the kirkyard at twelve o'clock at night, and endeavour, if possible, to speak with this mischievous inhabitant of the kirkyard. The minister accordingly, with his sword and his Bible, accompanied by some of the elders, and the son of the dead man whose appearance it assumed, attended at the grave at midnight. He instantly drew a circle with his sword around himself and his companions, over which it was impossible for all the powers of darkness to set one unhallowed footstep. Having imposed profound silence on the company, and said a prayer, he then opened the Bible, and reading aloud, in the name of his Maker, the awful text of conjuration, immediately the mouth of the grave was unclosed, and the evil spirit, from his dwelling of darkness, stood in a bodily shape before them. There was no evasion for him now; he stood in fear and trembling, reduced to the dire necessity of repeating his catechism before the minister and elders of Say-na-quhair. Unfortunately for the poor devil, he could give no proper account of himself; all the answer that he gave to the different questions that were put to him was, that he wanted to shake hands with that young man whom he called his son; and if he were only allowed that trifling request, he would give his word of honour never to trouble them any more. This the minister positively denied him, as it would have been at the expense of the young man's salvation to grant this request. But making use of another conjuration, and a text of Scripture written on the blade of his sword, accompanying the whole with fervent prayer, he fought mightily and prevailed. The spirit descended into the grave, and has never since made its appearance. In order to make him more secure, and to prevent the possibility of his making his escape, they have chained down the flat stone which lies over his grave with a strong band of iron. The minister is said to have preached a sermon exultingly over the devil's grave the succeeding Sunday after his victory, from the text, 'How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning?'"
Such is a specimen of the superstitions of which Dr. Morehead requested Mr. Hyslop to give an account in the "Edinburgh Magazine," of which the reverend doctor was editor. They are now among the curious facts of history, having little that in any degree corresponds to them in our own experience. Mr. Hyslop wrote from memory; but he had seen the grave above described, and, according to his recollection, it was at the west end of the church of Sanquhar. There are some lingering superstitions in our own day having at least some remote relation to the above. In the parish of Muirkirk, in my school-days, I have heard strange and thrilling stories from a servant-girl in my mother's house. She could describe them well, and as she firmly believed them, she gave them much of the appearance of truth. One evening at nightfall she rushed in screaming from the cow-milking to the kitchen, and sat down on a chair pale and speechless. We gathered round her, supposing she had met with some accident; but when she recovered speech she exclaimed, in an excited, tremulous tone, "My grandfather's wraith!" My mother reproved her for her foolish notions, which appeared to be turning her head; and, having gone out, found the empty milk-pail, which she had thrown away in her terror and flight. When the children were alone with the girl I ventured, not without fear, to ask her — "What was it like?" She replied — "It was just like a three-cornered white handkerchief." This answer dispelled the romance of the whole thing, and we all laughed; but she constantly affirmed that she saw it distinctly, and that such a pure, light, and airy embodiment was a suitable accompaniment of her grandfather's spirit on its flight to a better world. A wraith, as I understood the common conception, was an apparition in the likeness of a person, supposed to be seen before or soon after death. To soothe and comfort her in her tears, my mother promised to allow the girl to visit her old grandfather on the following day, as his house was only about two miles distant. We expected that she would find him in his usual health, though we knew that he was old and frail. She said she would go to see the family, but she could never again see the old man in this world. On the following day, ere she was ready to leave, a messenger came to say that the old man died in the gloamin' of the previous day. This unexpected intelligence somewhat restored the credit of her story, and we were willing to leave the question of the influence of one spirit on another among the mysteries which cannot be fully cleared up in our present imperfect state. This story involves the principle of some appearance of the spirit after the death of the body; but it differs from Hyslop's in so far as this spirit was not malignant — there having been always a warm attachment between the old man and his granddaughter. But all over Scotland there is still an impression among the common people, that if a man has been murdered or has committed suicide, the malignant spirit may possibly be seen near the spot where the deed was done, as if the spirit retained some grudge against the living, and young people shudder at the thought of passing such a spot alone in the dark.
Hyslop's next story deserves to be quoted, not only for its illustration of the superstitions that prevailed among the good people of Crawick; but also as a specimen of his poetical prose. "One Sunday night of a short winter day, a sober, religious, godly farmer was returning from sermon along the banks of the Crawick. The dark, stormy clouds and still darker night were lowering gloomily over the green hills of Carco, and Craignorth, and Knock-na-hair. The yellow ray of the wintry moon was unable to penetrate the thick veil of clouds that overshadowed her; and when the breath of the coming storm blew aside for a moment her cloudy covering, the yellow glare that fell upon the leafless woods served only to make the scene more dismal and dreary. There was not a voice to disturb the solitary meditations of the benighted traveller, saving the howling blast heard at intervals among the hills, which were then covered with trees and copsewood almost to their summits, and the lonely murmur of the waters lamenting the decayed beauty of the woods and the desolation of the stormy winter. With a mind deeply impressed with the darkness and solitude of the surrounding scenery, the solemnity of a Sabbath evening, and the thoughts of death, and eternity, and another world, Auld Gairland — for that is the designation of our traveller — plodded his pathless way homeward amidst the gloom and stillness of midnight. He at length arrived at the deep, haunted ravine, now known by the name of Carcoside Cleuch, where the appearance of white women has been seen so often as they were walking in the moonlight, arrayed in winding-sheets; and the wailing of infants has been heard by benighted wanderers deep in the hollow glen, at the side of a black pool. He was now descending into the bottom of the cleuch, the blasted branches were mingling darker over his head, when his ears were struck with frightful howlings in the hollow of the linn, sometimes resembling the growling of a huge mastiff, at other times the groans of a dying man. He knew well that these unearthly moanings proceeded from him 'who goeth about seeking whom he may devour;' but recollecting the text, 'Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,' he proceeded boldly forward, with his staff in one hand and his Bible in the other, strengthening himself in the power of his Maker. The appearance of a fearful black dog immediately was seen in the thicket before him, which it was impossible for him to pass. He stood still, and beheld it transformed into a black calf; at last into the appearance of a sheeted spectre, long and white. It would neither allow him to go forward nor backward — it glided round about him, as if determined, to keep him in this dismal situation all night. He at length began to sing the following lines from. the 34th Psalm:
The angel of the Lord encamps,
And round encompasseth
All those about that do him fear,
And them delivereth.
He had no sooner done this than the spectre vanished in a flash of fire, and left Auld Gairland to find his way home, returning thanks to Heaven for his preservation and deliverance."
Dr. Simpson makes the following remarks on Hyslop's prose: — "He was familiar with the anecdotes of thrilling interest that were told of the ancestors of the children of the moorlands, and he drank deep into their spirit. He had a strong taste for the legendary traditions which were current in the moorlands. On these he feasted, and had he survived he would have given them a living form and substance, and arrayed them in a garb of as much attractiveness as any writer of his time. These tales may be considered as the literature of the inhabitants of the glens and wilds of Kyle, who retain all that their forefathers have transmitted to them; and the great body of which consists of incidents that occurred in the times of persecution, as those localities were the special haunts of the worthies whose memorials are stereotyped on every height, and moor, and glen, and shaw.
O wild traditioned Scotland!
Thy briery burns and braes
Are full of pleasant memories,
And tales of other days.
Mr. Hyslop's descriptive powers were of order. He could write poetry in prose as well as in verse. It was with unspeakable ease that he could depict in the most graphic style any scene of interest that might present itself. It appears from his pieces that he would have succeeded much better as a descriptive prose writer than a versifier. His songs are sung by the shepherds in the moorlands. Some of them are retained in manuscript, as given out by the author himself; a few more were published, but only a few, and these in fugitive periodicals. We give what he calls 'The Beacon,' dated Banks of Kirkconnel, August, 1817. It must have been one of his earliest productions."
The "Scottish National Melody," which is the most spirited of all Hyslop's poems, appeared in the "Edinburgh Magazine" for April, 1821, as sent from the "Banks of the Crawick;" and in June of the same year appeared his "Address to Crawick," which was dated "Edinburgh, 19th April, 1821." But the "Cameronian Dream," published by him in the same magazine for February, 1821, is the most popular of all his poems.
It is dated from the Banks of the Crawick, near Sanquhar November 17, 1820. The animated description and touching sentiment of this piece brought the youthful author into notice, both in this country and America; it was inserted in numerous periodicals, and in collections of sacred poetry; and manuscript copies of it were circulated in moorland districts, particularly among his native hills. The date affixed by himself is our surest guide to the time of its composition. The common opinion, that he committed it to writing when at Wellwood is undoubtedly erroneous. The lines which we have quoted on a previous page (34), as written by him after he left Wellwood, exhibit a style very much inferior to that of the "Cameronian Dream." Dr. Simpson appears to have obtained the correct account of the origin of the poem, as related to him by the mother of the poet. Comparing Hyslop's own date with the narratives of Dr. Simpson and Mr. Rodger we find the following facts. It was during the vacation of his school at Greenock, when on a visit to his friends in the parish of Kirkconnel, that the poem was first penned. This must have been in the summer of 1820, for his own date to the published poem is November, 1820; and he appears to have left Greenock in the April following. He had been invited to a dinner party, according to one account, in the house of a farmer in the parish of Kirkconnel; but, according to another account, it was the minister's Monday dinner. after the Communion, and his grandfather, being an elder, was one of the company. Being of a modest and retiring disposition, he declined the invitation. While the party were at the manse, he withdrew to a place of retirement in the fields in Glen AyImer; and there, as Dr. Simpson remarks, "the poetic mantle fell upon him, and in a happy hour his moorland muse produced the 'Cameronian Dream.' He came in with a smiling face, and said to his mother, 'I have something here for you;' and with great animation he read the poem that has since attached celebrity to his name. When he had finished the reading of it, he said, 'Now, mother, don't you think I have been as well occupied as if I had been at the dinner?' He was at that time a teacher in Greenock; and it would appear that he was on a visit to his friends during the vacation, when he spent a few happy weeks in the moorlands."
The circumstances connected with Mr. Hyslop's removal from Greenock have been feelingly related by his friend Mr. Rodger. "His difficulties were accumulating, and his health and energy were becoming greatly impaired by his town and indoor confinement; and the young literary acquaintances who had gathered around him were sorrowfully contemplating the necessity of his removal from amongst them. They regretted it, not only from its being certain to break up various literary schemes, of which he was a principal, but also from real and cordial friendship, which, through his goodness and gentleness, it was scarcely possible not to accord to him. Their sorrows were lightened, however, and himself greatly relieved and cheered by expectations held up to him, with respect to a permanent situation that did not require a distant removal. The patronage, which he found not where he looked for it, he found in another place. Mr. Jefrrey (now Lord Jeffrey) having heard of him and his productions from Dr. Morehead, at once, with true patriotism and good feeling, took a fostering and considerate notice of him, and it was principally, if not altogether, to influence from this quarter that his genius and attainments were made to accrue, as they eventually did, to his pecuniary advantage. The situation alluded to was in the gift of a gentleman who had been favourably induced towards him; and a portion of Latin poetry was given to him to translate, by way of testing his acquirements and fitness. The task was well and elegantly performed; and the young conclave who took so deep an interest in it, confident of such a result, were renewing their literary schemes, and taking delight in observing the returning liveliness of their valued friend; but, in a week or two, alas! the aspect of things altered, and a mercantile lesson was read to them on the subject, which, notwithstanding their great indignation at the time, some of them were wise enough to profit by: the gentleman who had the patronage of the situation found that a gentleman from whom he had a large sum on loan had a friend that wanted the place."
This was a great disappointment at the time, and Hyslop again drooped. His finances, scanty at the best, were not improved by school-fees to the extent he had at first expected; and his independent spirit was sorely harrowed by the annoyances to which his poverty subjected him. According to Mr. Rodger, "his anxieties were much augmented, too, by the state of his health, which not only impeded him in struggling against his difficulties, but, by working upon his highly wound-up sensibilities, began greatly to over-excite and distress him. His dreams, both waking and sleeping, were of 'dungeon dark' and 'prison bells,' and of oppression from the 'merciless stranger.' Nature, however, directed him to his best remedy. His heart yearned for his native Nithsdale; 'to inhale the fresh breeze of the mountains, to drink the delicious fragrance of the yellow cornfields, to listen to the bleating of the flocks, and the melody of the waters, gliding mournfully among the yellow woods and dying heather blooms of Yaughan, and Crawick, and Spango.' These, together with the cordial faces which he found amongst them, soon restored to him his wonted elasticity and energy."
Thus terminated his connection with Greenock, where he first heard the voice of fame, and where he formed many warm friendships.
V. — ON BOARD THE "DORIS."
When Mr. Hyslop left Greenock he visited Edinburgh, on his way to Nithsdale. He did so on the invitation of Dr. Morehead; and on the occasion of this visit, having met also with Lord Jefrey, these patrons introduced him to Captain Grahame, of the Royal Navy, whose good discernment led him to take an interest in him at once, and eventually to engage him to fill the office of tutor on board His Majesty's ship "Doris," which was about to proceed to the coast of South America. Dr. Simpson says that, "Mr. Hyslop frequently mentioned the kindness he received from the great barrister, and how he took him into the Parliament House, and introduced him to some of his literary acquaintances, who paid him no little respect, probably looking on him as another Burns, whom Scotland had already reproduced, and was about to send forth on a career no less brilliant and somewhat more unexceptional in point of moral detail." During this visit, he was introduced to James Hogg, the "Ettrick Shepherd," and at his request he visited Hogg at his home on the Yarrow, on his way to the banks of the Crawick. Hogg appears to have left Edinburgh before him; but, when he followed, he was cordially welcomed, and he greatly enjoyed his visit to the "Ettrick Shepherd." On examining the library Hyslop noticed that the title on the back of the Waverley Novels was "Scott's Novels." As the secret of the "Great Unknown" was not out at that time, Hyslop asked his entertainer if the books were indeed Scott's. Hogg's reply was — "When Scott was here himsel' an' lookin' o'er thae shelves, e'en as you're doin' the noo, he noticed that, and he just laucht."
The secret of authorship here referred to excited immense interest in the literary world for more than twelve years. It does not seem at any time to have been entrusted to Mr. James Hogg; but there were a few that knew it from the first. When "Guy Mannering" was first published (in 1815), the "Ettrick Shepherd" said to Professor Wilson, "I have done wi' doubts now. Colonel Mannering is just Walter Scott, painted by himself." This was repeated to James Ballantyne, and he again mentioned it to Scott, who smiled in approbation of the Shepherd's shrewdness. "Waverley" had been published in 1814; and Mr. Morritt, to whom the authorship was known, recommended that it should be announced in the second edition, but Scott had strong objections to this; and, in 1823, he sent his MSS. to Mr. Constable under the express condition "that they shall be scrupulously concealed during the author's life." The parentage of the Waverley Novels ceased to be any obscurity from the hour of Constable's failure; and Lord Meadowbank asked and obtained the author's permission to make the discovery known at a public dinner of 300 gentlemen in 1827. Sir Walter replied that considering the secret had been revealed to about twenty persons it had been remarkably well kept; and he added, "that the merits of these works, if they have any, and their faults, are all entirely imputable to myself."
After visiting the "Ettrick Shepherd," James Hyslop returned to his native hills, with the view of recruiting his health previous to his sailing for South America. His native air completely restored his wonted health and spirits. During this visit he spent some time on Glenmuir Water. When, collecting materials for this sketch, I wrote to the late Mr. William Haddow, then laird of Riggfoot, parish of New Cumnock, requesting him to furnish me with such personal reminiscences of Mr. Hyslop as he could recall, and he sent me a few. In his letter of 26th October, 1874, he said: — "When mere boys we lived on farms that adjoined each other, and we occasionally met. When grown up, he came and stayed at our house, when needing rest after exhausting work in a school at Greenock. After his return from sea, the first time, he visited us once or twice at Shaw, and stayed one night. At the time of his first visit we slept together; and in bed he recited to me the 'Cameronian Dream,' which I admired very much. After his death, there came to his mother, among his effects, some papers containing scraps of his poetry. I saw them, but there was only one little piece complete, namely, 'The Scottish National Melody,' which we considered even superior to the 'Cameronian Dream.' I transcribed it, and gave it to Mr. MacGill, who got it inserted in the 'Glasgow University Album' for 1836. I saw, too, in a magazine a poem of his called 'The Scottish Sacramental Sabbath,' of which I took a copy, but unfortunately lost it. This is all I know of his poetry, except a love song which I once heard sung." Mr. Haddow did not form so high an estimate of Hyslop's piety as some did, but he regarded him as "very amiable." He was a member of the Church of Scotland, and had great admiration of national piety as it appeared in due respect for the Sabbath and the sanctuary.
Before Mr. Haddow became laird of Riggfoot, he lived on Glenmuir Water, where he was wont to meet with Hyslop. When the late Rev. Dr. MacGill, the distinguished Foreign Secretary of the United Presbyterian Church, was a student in divinity, he was acquainted with Mr. Haddow, and received from him a copy of the "Scottish National Melody," as above related. Dr. MacGill told me that he admired the patriotism and poetry of the "Scottish National Melody," and handed the piece to Mr. Stewart, afterwards the Rev. Dr. Stewart of Leghorn, who was the principal editor of the "Glasgow University Album" for that year. The "Editors" gave the poem the honour of the first place in the "Album," though Hyslop was never a University man; and they thus refer to it in their Preface: — "The Editors deem it right here to advert to the highly-beautiful national verses opening the volume, as being invested with a peculiar interest, from the circumstance of their being the posthumous production of James Hyslop, author of the well-known and much-admired stanzas entitled, 'The Cameronian Dream,' composed when the writer was a shepherd boy in his native county of Ayr. This highly-promising individual, when on his way a few years ago to a foreign shore, was shipwrecked and cast on an island of savages, from whom he met a barbarous and revolting — a nameless end." The Editors express a just estimate of the excellence of this piece; but they have fallen into several mistakes from incorrect information; for it was not a posthumous production — they incorrectly spell his name, and give an incorrect title to the "Cameronian Dream " (both which errors I have corrected) — and Hyslop was not shipwrecked, nor did he fall among cannibals.
On comparing the "National Melody," as published by Hyslop in the "Edinburgh Magazine" for April, 1821, with the reprint in the "University Album" for 1836, I find that the two editions correspond almost word for word, and, in the very few instances in which a word is changed, the former edition is to be preferred. Many of the MS. copies in circulation are incorrect and defective.
After he left home for his long voyage, Hyslop sent an interesting letter to his grandfather, Mr. George Lammie, Kirkconnel, which is now in possession of his cousin, Mr. Ker, of Kirkconnel. This letter has been highly prized by the whole circle of friends; and it has been so frequently perused that some of its words are scarcely legible. I am indebted to the Rev. J. H. Scott, of Sanquhar, for the following copy of it:—
"H.M.S. 'DORIS,' PORTSMOUTH, Sunday, 15th July, 1821.
MY DEAR GRANDFATHER, — I had a letter from Dalblair two days ago. My stepfather told me you were wearying to hear from me. I would have written you long ago; but I had nothing of any importance to write, and was unwilling to put you to the expense of a letter for no purpose. I have just to tell you that I am happy still, and as comfortable as this world's good things can make me. The captain and his lady are very pleasant people; and I am afraid I shall be spoilt with their kindness. They let me want for nothing — neither money nor comforts of any kind; and I am sure they have been at as much attention in getting me properly fitted out with all things necessary for my voyage as my aunts Christ, jenny would have been; and you know how careful they were always that I should have all things comfortable. Tell them to keep their minds quite at ease about me, and to be as kind to you till I come back as they used to be to me, and I will not forget them. I have been at nearly £50 of expenses in fitting out; but I have got a good supply of clothing and all things necessary, and it will be a long time before I need be at so much expense again.
"This is the Sabbath-day, however, and we should talk of other things. I think, if I have calculated right, this is your preparation Sabbath. When you receive this letter you will be preparing to celebrate this awful and impressive solemnity by going up to the altar, and taking your seats around a communion table. I wish I had been at home to accompany you, as in other years. I never feel any great desire to be at home, except in this season; but it has always been sacred to me since I was a child, from the impressions that your advices, and those of her that is no more, left on my mind then. Be where I may, then, I shall remember the days of this high solemnity, and they will be sacred to me. There is nothing I will miss so much when I am away as those forms of religious service in which I spent my youth. One likes the religion of his childhood, be what it may; and if it be the religion of the heart and of the Bible, I don't see why we should ever change it. If our devotion do not become more fervent when it is connected with all the remembrances of youth and of youthful piety, I do not think our hearts will ever feel it in any stronger form. I don't like to see people shifting their principles and religious opinions. I think it is a bad mark, and a strong evidence that they are destitute of the religion of the heart, which is all in all with God. People could not easily change their religion if their natural feelings had felt its power and were interested in its form. But it is a sad thing to see so many people apparently destitute of all sort of feeling in these matters. How I have sometimes been shocked in the country churches of Scotland, and in particular of Kirkconnel, to see so many people enter the church with as much carelessness as if they had been entering a theatre; and sit down to the communion table with as much thoughtlessness and unconcern as if they had been sitting down to their dinner! It is an awful thought to rush thus rashly and unbidden, and without a wedding garment, into the sanctuary.
"I have many a time wondered that there are not better regulations kept up in the country churches of Scotland with regard to external decency. I wish you saw the order, and solemnity, and propriety that are observed in some of the genteel Scotch churches in Edinburgh. There is far less of that thoughtless staring and irreverent demeanour than is seen in the country, and there is the presence of good manners and politeness pleasant to behold. I think the English service superior to the Presbyterian in that respect. I never witnessed anything so serious and so awfully solemn as the service in the English churches. I went to the garrison church here last Sunday, when there were present between two and three hundred naval and military officers and nearly a thousand soldiers, all in their fine regimentals and military uniforms. All the walls of the church were hung round with their hats and swords. I wish you had seen the seriousness and attention that they all paid to the service of God. Not a word or whisper was heard, nor was an irreverent look to be seen in this congregation of warriors. Though many of them were of the highest stock, they were not ashamed to array themselves under the banner of the King of Righteousness, and to do Him honour by humbling themselves in His presence. The devotional part of the service was awfully impressive, every eye was fixed in silence and attention. This silence was broken by the deep notes of the organ, at first alone, till it was joined by the whole of the military instruments, trumpets, and high-sounding cymbals, as they broke into the sublime spirit of the 148th Psalm in the middle of the book, every verse of which, in the English version, ends with, 'Praise Him and magnify, praise Him and magnify, praise Him and magnify Him for ever.' Repeated with the whole congregation and the military instruments three times, it was terribly sublime. You would have thought yourself in heaven if you had heard it; for you like music, I know.
"We have an English clergyman on board, who preaches to the ship's company every Sunday. He and I are getting well acquainted and very intimate; and from his bookish habits he promises to be a most agreeable companion to me. He told me very kindly the first day I saw him, that if there was any branch of education that he knew and I did not know, he would be extremely happy to teach it me. He was educated at Cambridge, and is a very excellent scholar, and I expect to make improvement under him. He has kindly offered me the use of all his books, and the captain's lady has offered me the use of all hers: and I am sure she has far more than Mr. Richardson; and think how happy I shall be among so many books, and with such kind people.
"I cannot bid you write to me, for we will have sailed in two or three days after you receive this, and your letter would not have time to reach me. I will always write, either to you or some of the rest of my friends, whenever I meet with a vessel for Scotland; and there will be plenty of opportunities. I will tell you then how to direct your letters to me. Remember me to Mrs. Cringan's family, Mr. and Mrs. Richardson, and the Knowe family, and to all friends, particularly my uncle John Young, Carco people, and my mother. — I am, my dear grandfather, yours,
The above is a very good specimen of his letters. He could accommodate himself to the humble and uneducated, as well as to those whose early culture was far superior to his own. The letter also furnishes evidence of that remarkable amiability to which all who knew him bear testimony. He received kindness from every one, because he was always willing to oblige any one who came in his way. His absorbing desire for self-improvement is prominent in this letter; and he expresses his delight at being furnished with the means of gratifying it on the voyage on which he was entering. He gives us some insight into his early religious experience also. He remembers that he is writing on the day which is the preparation Sabbath at home; and that his grandfather and other friends are preparing to celebrate the "impressive solemnity" of the Lord's Supper. This vividly brings back the recollection of spiritual enjoyment in early days, and raises the wish that he had been at home to accompany his dear friends to the Communion table, "as in other years." This season had always been sacred to him since he was a child. He remembers gratefully the kind Christian instructions and advices of his grandfather and grandmother, and he still cherishes the impressions which their pious counsels made on his infant mind. His allusion to his sainted grandmother is expressed in the admirable spirit of Scotch reserve — "her that is no more." She had watched over him with all the care and tenderness of a mother; and now that she is no longer on earth, she is remembered with filial gratitude and love. The surviving grandparent must have been deeply touched with this testimony from one who had been the child of many prayers; and who, when going far from home, coupled his testimony with the fervent resolution — "Be where I may I shall remember the days of this high solemnity, and they will be sacred to me." It was an utterance from the heart, and it went directly to the heart.
The voyage of the "Doris" occupied fully three years. Mr. Hyslop kept a journal of daily occurrences, but on reaching Brazil he discontinued it. He meant to prepare and publish a narrative of his voyage, but Mr. Rodger thinks that he abandoned his journal on hearing that Captain Basil Hall was about to publish on the same subject. When he ultimately published a series of letters in 1825 in the "Edinburgh Magazine," he drew on his memory and the letters he had sent home to friends. There was one occurrence of special interest during the voyage. Two boys from the island of Tahiti had secreted themselves in a trading vessel in the hope of being conveyed to Great Britain. The vessel had proceeded far on her voyage ere they were discovered; and the master, on falling in with the "Doris," transferred them to the charge of Captain Grahame. They were kindly received and placed under Hyslop's care for tuition. He speedily acquired their language, and was surprised to find that they were so intelligent. Their desire to visit Britain had originated in the wonderful things the missionaries in Tahiti had told them of their home country. He was surprised to find that they were better acquainted with the principles of Christianity than the majority of the sailors on board. This knowledge they had gained from the missionaries, along with such an amount of geographical learning, that they were able accurately to point out the course the "Doris" was steering, as well as the way by which they hoped to return home after circumnavigating the globe. The officers, and indeed all on board, were astonished at their progress in reading, writing, and casting accounts, and one gentleman in particular, who had previously been unfriendly to missionary enterprises, was so much pleased with the proficiency of the strangers, and with what had been done for them ere they left home, that he drew up and published an interesting account of their case, and was ever afterwards the strenuous supporter of missionary operations for the conversion of the heathen. Of all the novelties they saw on board, nothing surprised the youths so much as the drum. "Many a time and oft" they turned it round and round, and, like children who break their toys to find where the sound comes from, they longed to see the inside. When the top was taken off, and explanations were given as far as this was possible in their language, which was exceedingly defective in terms belonging to science and art, their knowledge of acoustics was so limited that the matter remained a mystery to them. One of them unfortunately died at sea, and the other was left at Rio de Janeiro, under promise of kind treatment and a pleasant conveyance to his native island.
Everything was new to Hyslop in the outward voyage, and the islands of Madeira and Teneriffe particularly attracted his attention. The terraced vineyards of Teneriffe and its far-famed Peak, rising to the great height of 12,182 feet above the sea, were seen by him under favourable circumstances. He had felt a strong desire to witness the aspects of nature in foreign lands that are widely different from those of his native country, and here he found much to meet that desire. In the island he was charmed by the beautiful, and in the Peak by the grand. The "Doris" cast anchor in the roads of Pernambuco, after a voyage of six weeks. From that port she sailed to Bahia, a commercial city and seaport of Brazil, and, with the exception of Rio de Janeiro, the largest city in South America, having now a population of 200,000. His first view of this city was such as to give him a highly favourable impression of it — built as it is on a hill and seen by him from the sea at early dawn, under the soft radiance of the rising sun — its convents and churches, with their tall white spires, rising from amid their surroundings of green fruit trees. A closer inspection of the interior of the city is disappointing, but the environs are beautiful. The British, in common with the other merchants, have their residences with garden grounds in the rural suburbs, and cadeiras for conveying them and their visitors to and fro were to be got for a very small charge in almost every street. The British abroad are ever attentive to persons coming amongst them with a good introduction; and, when a man-of-war from their own land arrives, there is no end of invitations to balls, dinners, and pleasure parties of every description. Much attention was paid to the officers of the "Doris" on this occasion. Mr. Rodger, of Greenock, states that he had a letter from Bahia at the time of this visit, from a highly-respected lady, in which she says that the "Doris" had been there and was away again, that Mr. Hyslop was well-known to her and her family; that the circles he visited were principally English; and that he was highly respected both on board and on shore. The English, it would appear, had been at that time a very select little society, their ladies, with some honourable exceptions, scarcely associating with those of the country; but from the time that the "Doris" arrived all had been gaiety, and mirth, and festivity among them. The consul kept open house for naval officers; and somewhere or other there was music and dancing once a week. Mr. Hyslop was pleased to observe that, while the entertainments were sumptuous and elegant, there was no constraint or affectation. The fruits, wines, and viands generally were described by him as excellent; but what Mr. Hyslop enjoyed most was a stroll among the fruit trees with some new acquaintance of his own way of thinking, or a walk with one of the more intelligent ladies. His verses, beginning, "The wine is red," are dated from Brazil, and relate to the scenes he has described at Bahia.
Early in December of the same year (1821) the "Doris" was again at sea, and on her way to Rio do Janeiro. Thence she sailed round Cape Horn to the coasts of Chili and Peru, where about two years were spent. Here Mr. Hyslop employed himself in writing a historical account of the country, with the manners and customs of the people; but he seems to have thrown his narrative aside when he found, on his return to Britain, that the felicitous pen of Captain Basil Hall had anticipated him, and left him comparatively little to glean.
His letters in the "Edinburgh Magazine" were eleven in number — the first appearing in the magazine for May, 1825, and the last in November following. They were headed, "Recollections and Reflections of a South American Seaman, in a Series of Letters." In his reply to the Editor's request for the letters, he said: — "I have your letter requesting an account of my voyages and rambling excursions during the last three years. Had I kept a journal daily, I should have been able fully to comply. The volumes of Mrs. Grahame and Captain Hall richly fill up the blank. I cannot pretend to give you additional information regarding public events in Brazil, Chili, and Peru; but there is a mass of feeling which, if I could make visible, might be amusing to the eye of friendship." From the Roads of Pernambuco, he wrote, in September, 1821: — "After a long voyage of about forty-two days from England, we at last arrived safe on the shores of South America." In his second letter, which appeared in the July magazine, he says: — "The town is still in the possession of the Portuguese, and I have seen nothing of the patriots as yet, except two or three of their horsemen, who came on board, as soon as we anchored, to see whether we were going to be patriots or royalists; but as the captain told them that we belonged to neither party, but that we were come out solely for the protection of the English and the interests of the British trade, they went away without giving any further annoyance. Their camp lay at some distance among the woods; and their dusty regimentals, their foul linen, and dirty boots, seemed to indicate that they had either ridden a good way or been employed on very active service. Although they were rather shabbily dressed, their appearance was not the less interesting, for their dark and dusky countenances bore the marks of much fatigue and night watching. Their heavy horsemen's sabres dangling by their sides, their boots and rusty spurs bespattered with mud, bespoke characters much more accustomed to the camp than the court; they had, nevertheless, the manners and address of gentlemen, and all the ease and politeness in their carriage which we expect to meet in military officers; and the general impression left on my mind, by this first specimen of South American patriots, is, that, so far from being effeminate, they are as hardy as Scotch Highlanders — inured to fatigue, and determined to brave every hardship, and sacrifice every comfort — to fast, to sleep in the woods, and to pass long nights without sleep, in watching and weariness, to sacrifice home, happiness, and life itself, in defence of their country's liberty."
This description shows that Mr. Hyslop carefully observed the novel sights that met his eye in a foreign land, and that he was able to describe these sights with all the ease of a practised writer. He was much disappointed with the appearance of the town of Pernambuco, as he saw it from the taffrail of the frigate. It did not seem longer than Dumfries, or, perhaps, Greenock. Scarcely one curling wreath of smoke obscured a single dwelling. There were no streets like Princes Street, with elegant buildings of bright brown freestone; no beautiful roofs of blue slate; no white-washed walls shining in the sun; no casements of glittering glass nor green Venetian blinds. He adds: — "The whitewalls of Funchal, in the island of Madeira, seen in the dusk of the evening, were so bright and dazzling that they seemed like large masses of chalk rock, something like the white cliffs of Dover, scattered on the base of the mountain; and when the morning sun broke upon them, what appeared to be white rocks, seen through the twilight darkness, we discovered to be irregular rows of beautiful white walls, rising terrace above terrace, forming a fantastic amphitheatre of streets, and churches, and vineyards, all intermingled. The coast, on our approach, was shrouded in a thick fog, and we have since had some heavy tropical showers, accompanied with thunder; and when I look on the sombre aspect of those dark forests, to whose extent my fancy can fix no limit, they awaken in my mind all the gloomy associations connected with the pine-tree forests of Scotland — my dear, but far-distant country — when dark and dripping with wet, in a stormy day towards the end of autumn or the beginning of winter. You see my natural associations are all from the hills of my youth, yet I can't help contrasting the low and melancholy aspect of the landscapes before me with the bold and cheerful landscapes of the green island of Madeira and the stupendous Peak of Teneriffe. In Madeira there were mountains, and glens, and peaks — vineyards, and orchards, and woods, and waterfalls, and every variety of grandeur and beauty that the traveller's eye could wish to rest upon, when sick of the unvarying uniformity of the blue sea. In Teneriffe the scenery was not beautiful; but the hillsides, though brown, and apparently as bleak and barren as the cornfields of Scotland after the harvest is gathered into the barnyards, were rich with terraces covered with vineyards; and though there were few green leaves, yet the brown sand was richly shaded with creeping tendrils bending beneath the bunches of bushy grapes; and, far above the vineyards, the higher parts of the island were covered with mist and clouds; and far above the mist and the clouds arose the stupendous Peak, like one of the grey-cairned mountains of Scotland severed from the lower world, and flung up to heaven to find its resting place on the white clouds of the middle sky."
When he had returned from a cruise on shore, he described, in his third letter, what he saw of slavery. "You can't move in any direction but slavery, with all its multiplied miseries, arrests your attention. The pineapple, esteemed such a delicious dessert at home, is here in great abundance, springing up in almost every field where there is any cultivation, as common as a Scotch thistle at home. The water-melon is also very plentiful, and on all sides of the roads into the country are trees loaded with cocoa-nuts, and oranges, and bananas." In his fourth letter he says: — "I have not seen a pretty girl since I left home. You will be telling me, of course, that I have left my heart at home, among the broomy braes of Scotland. I have not the slightest objection that you should tax me with all this." His last printed letter is dated "At sea, off Bahia, December, 1821," and is addressed to his sweetheart. It begins: — "The white spires, and steeples, and green trees of Bahia are receding in the distance. My heart naturally turns to you, and the remembrance of happy summer days among the green woods of Scotland." He proceeds to give graphic descriptions of the people he had met, and their customs.
Shortly after reaching the South American coast, Mr. Hyslop heard of Lord Cochrane's daring exploit of cutting out the Spanish frigate, "Esmeralda," from under the batteries of Callao, in the Bay of Lima, which had taken place about a year before his visit, and he wrote a spirited poem on the subject. He received the particulars of the feat from some who had taken part in it, and from others who had heard the narrative as related by seamen who were actually engaged in the affair. The following is Captain Basil Hall's account: — "Lord Cochrane, with part of his squadron, anchored in the outer Roads of Callao, the seaport of Lima. The inner harbour was guarded by an extensive system of batteries, admirably constructed, and bearing the general name of the Castle of Callao. The merchant ships, as well as the men-of-war, consisting, at that time, of the 'Esmerilda,' a large forty-gun frigate, and two sloops of war, were moored under the guns of the castle within a semi-circle of fourteen gun-boats, and a boom made of spars chained together. Lord Cochrane having previously reconnoitred these formidable defences in person, undertook, on the 5th of November, the desperate enterprise of cutting out the Spanish frigate, although she was known to be fully prepared for an attack. His lordship proceeded in fourteen boats, containing 240 men, all volunteers from the different ships of the squadron, in two divisions; one under the immediate orders of Captain Crosbie, the other under Captain Guise; both officers commanding ships of the Chilian squadron. At midnight, the boats having forced their way across the boom, Lord Cochrane, who was leading, rowed alongside the first gun-boat, and taking the officer by surprise, proposed to him, with a pistol at his head, the alterative of 'Silence or death!' No reply was made; the boats pushed on unobserved, and Lord Cochrane, mounting the 'Esmeralda's' side, was the first to give the alarm. The sentinel on the gangway levelled his piece and fired, but was instantly cut down by the coxswain; and his lordship, though wounded in the thigh, at the same moment stepped on the deck. The frigate being boarded with no less gallantry on the opposite side by Captain Guise, who met Lord Cochrane midway on the quarter-deck, and also by Captain Crosbie, the after-part of the ship was soon carried, sword in hand. The Spaniards rallied on the forecastle, where they made a desperate resistance till overpowered by a fresh party of seamen and marines, headed by Lord Cochrane. A gallant stand was again made for some time on the main-deck, but before one o'clock the ship was captured, her cables cut, and she was steered triumphantly out of the harbour, under the fire of the whole of the north face of the castle. The 'Hyperion,' an English, and the 'Macedonian,' an American frigate, which were at anchor close to the scene of action, got under weigh when the attack commenced; and, in order to prevent their being mistaken by the batteries for the 'Esmeralda,' showed distinguishing signals. But Lord Cochrane, who had foreseen and provided even for this minute circumstance, hoisted the same lights as the American and English frigates, and thus rendered it impossible for the batteries to discriminate between the three ships; the 'Esmeralda,' in consequence, was very little injured by the shot from the batteries. The Spaniards had upwards of 120 men killed and wounded; the Chilians, 11 killed and 30 wounded. This loss was a death-blow to the Spanish naval force in that quarter of the world; for, although there were still two Spanish frigates and some smaller vessels in the Pacific, they never afterwards ventured to show themselves, but left Lord Cochrane undisputed master of the coast."
ANECDOTE OF THE SAUGH.
In the woods of Brazil one day, Mr. Hyslop was saddened by the thought that the hedges, trees, flowers, and grass which he saw had nothing in them to remind him of home — they were all so different from those of our northern climate; but at length he met with a small bush of green willow, beside a marsh, which vividly brought up the remembrance of Scotland. "I sat down beneath its shadow," he wrote, "stripped the bark from one of its branches, chewed the sweet rhind, as when I was a boy; and, from the recollections of home it awakened, it was to me a far more delicious treat than the richest fruits I have tasted in this glowing climate." Every person who has travelled in a foreign land knows how strongly the heart is moved by an object that suddenly brings up the associations of home. Soon after I had entered on the Plain of Sharon, in the Holy Land, I saw a pretty little flower which I supposed to be the Scotch daisy; but on alighting to pluck it, I was disappointed to find that it was only like it. I find that other travellers have made the same mistake which I at first did, with this difference, that they did not alight so as to find out their mistake. Mr. Johnstone, of Dumfries, who was riding beside me on the same flowery plain, repeatedly alighted afterwards for the same object, and experienced the same disappointment. We travelled across the country from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, and through the centre of the land, from Bethlehem in the south to Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, and Mount Carmel in the north, without ever finding a gowan, till at length we discovered, on the hill above Nazareth, the "Wee modest crimson-tipped flower," which revived the dear associations of home. I gathered as many of them as I could find, and, after reserving a few for myself, which I still preserve, I distributed the rest among our party, who were immensely pleased with them.
But Mr. Hyslop felt more than ordinary interest in the willow he found in the woods of Brazil. The lines he wrote on the occasion indicate, what Mr. Alexander Rodger says he knew from other sources, that to him "the willow or such had special associations that would rise far above its more general ones." The following are the lines which were occasioned by the discovery of the willow in Brazil:
Happier the poet lives retired
'Mong violets blooming blue;
Or marks the primrose blossom fair,
The emblem of his Annie's hair;
Or gathers with a lover's care
Sweet flowers to deck her bosom;
Or, happier still, he spends the day
'Mong saughs wi' buds o' siller gray,
Where greenwoods shade the flowrie brae,
And shield each opening blossom.
Mr. Hyslop's muse was very active in South America. His "Sacramental Sabbath," in the style of the "Cottar's Saturday Night," was dated "River Plata, September, 1824." "The Untombed Mariners," and "Lines on a Naval Officer buried in the Atlantic," appear to have been written on the voyage to South America, going or returning; and they were both published in the "New Monthly Magazine" (London: Henry Colburn), the former in the volume for 1825, and the latter in that for 1826. This magazine was sometimes called "Campbell's Magazine," from Thomas Campbell, the editor; and Mr. A. Rodger attests that both the pieces in Campbell's Magazine were by Hyslop, though they were anonymous. Mr. Rodger says: — "Both of them, if my memory does not misgive me, I have heard him allude to as his; and the former was, at his instance, reprinted in the Greenock newspaper, November, 1825." None of the three pieces I have just named appear in his manuscript book of poetry; but the "Sacramental Sabbath" is well known to be his, and many copies of it were in circulation among his friends. Besides, it was little more than a poetical version of a prose narrative published by himself in the "Edinburgh Magazine," and given on a previous page of this sketch (page 50).
From several personal friends of Mr. Hyslop I had learned that he had revised some of his early poems two or three years before his death; but it was in conversation with Mrs. Otto, at Sanquhar, that I first learned that he had copied into a book such of his poems as he deemed worthy of preservation. She supposed at that time that the book had been lost by being lent to some one who had not returned it to her; but when she died, six years after my visit, the book was found among her things. It is now in possession of D. Barker, Esq., lately of Arundel House, Dumfries, but now in Australia. When I applied to Mr. Barker for information regarding Mr. Hyslop, he kindly allowed me a perusal of the book, that I might extract from it what might be found to be available for this volume. I found in it correct copies of several poems into which many errors had been introduced by transcribers, and many new poems of which I had not previously heard. I have used such of the new poems as it appeared to me likely that Mr. Hyslop would himself have published had he lived to issue a collected edition. Both my readers and myself are under great obligations to Mr. Barker for granting me the loan of this book, and permitting me to use the poems in it. Prefixed to this volume is a copy of the portrait found in the book. The book contains 140 pages of poetry; to which are
added 27 pages in prose, translated from the French of Rousseau.
Some of the new pieces are dated, and I may mention the dates. "The Poet and His Mistress " is dated Chili, 10th October, 1822; "The Heavens are Dark," 16th October, 1822; "I'll not Write for the World," at sea, 20th October, 1822; "In Summer's Woods," 24th October, 1822; "Though I have Studied many a Weary Day," off Falkland Islands, November, 1822; "Song — To You," off the River Plate, November, 1822; "Woman's Love," at sea, Sunday, November, 1822; "A Word to the Wise is Enough," Rio Janeiro, 24th November, 1822; "In a Foreign Land," Rio Janeiro, 13th January, 1822; "To Lydia," 1819; "To Lydia," 1817; "To Lydia," February, 1821; "Pastoral Sweetness," 1820; "The Evening was Bright," 1820; "To Lydia's Sister," February, 1821; "To Lydia — New-Year's Evening," 1821; "Translation from Cornelius Gallus," 1817; "Song," 1st January, 1819; "Lydia and Cupid," August, 1817; "Written on Leaving England," August, 1821; " Song," Rio Janeiro, January, 1822; "A Ball on Board," Rio Janeiro, January, 1822; "Poet," 6th December, 1822; "To Caroline," Braganza, December, 1822; "The Wanderer's Song," January, 1823; "Scottish Verses," Rio Janeiro, 17th January, 1822; "Birthday Verses to Anna," Rio, Janeiro, 23rd July, 1823, the close of my 25th year; "The Ring-Dove to Anna," Bahia, 1823; "To Anna — Wishes," 27th July, 1823.
From this list it appears that a considerable proportion of the poems composed by Mr. Hyslop in South America, or re-written there, were love-songs; and the same remark is true of those that are without date. There seems to have been no formal engagement of marriage with Miss Barker; but he visited her father's house as an accepted lover, and all the family expected that their mutual affection would lead to matrimony. When his circumstances in Greenock proved unfavourable for his having a home of his own, it is said that Mr. Barker wished his daughter to withdraw from the engagement; and, on this account, she was not able to see her lover on his visit to Sanquhar in January, 1819. Indeed, he refers to this in a note to his poem which was written on the occasion. He says of this visit: — "My sole intention was to see 'Anna,' and I did not see her; and I think I never was so melancholy and so disappointed." But the two lovers were too thoroughly engaged in affection to be long separated; the intimacy was renewed, and remained in its full strength during his long absence of three years in South America. When he returned to Scotland she obtained possession of his manuscript volume; and only a few of his songs were ever known to his most intimate friends. She remained true to him as long as he lived, and it was some time after his lamented death that she became the wife of Mr. Otto. She continued all through her long life warmly to cherish the memory of her early lover. I need not further refer to these private matters, but what I have said is necessary for the illustration of his poetry.
VI. — ON BOARD THE "TWEED"
When Mr. Hyslop returned from South America he did not contemplate another voyage. As soon as he returned he visited his friends at Sanquhar, Kirkconnel, and Dalblair, in the vale of the Glenmuir. He hastened to Sanquhar to see Miss Barker, the "Anna," "Annie," and "Lydia " of his songs; and we can imagine delight with which the two lovers long absence of three years. They had both felt that "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." She then received from him his manuscript book of poetry, which she retained as a sacred treasure to the end of her long life. As a kind of appendix to the book, he gives several prose translations from Rousseau, which, he says, he "made for the sake of Anna, after receiving a letter in which she made some reference to his works."
Prefixed to the translations he gives the following "extract from the letter of a young lady to her sweetheart: — I really am amused with what you say about the nonsensical repetitions you have made use of in your letters to me. I never saw a person make so just a remark on himself as you have done. I think I have at least four dozen of your letters, and in every one of them you make use of the same expressions; and, as you say, it might all be expressed in three words. However, since you think fit to make so many professions, I do not think you could find other words, there is so little variety in love." To this extract Mr. Hyslop appends the remark: — "It is very pleasing to find the good sense and elegant simplicity of this young lady's letter, in such perfect accordance with the opinion of the eloquent and fanciful Rousseau, an extract from whose thoughts on the same subject I shall translate on the other side. By doing so, I think I pay a compliment to all the three." In the extract referred to, Rousseau says: — "A letter which love has really dictated — of an impassioned and true lover — will be careless, diffuse, all full of confusions and repetitions: his heart full of one sentiment to overflowing repeats always the same thing, and has never done with what it is so full of, like a fountain which flows without ceasing, and yet is never exhausted. If the strength of sentiment does not strike us, its truth touches us, and it is thus that heart strikes to heart." The letters to Miss Barker were all destroyed shortly before her death; but the love-songs remain, and there is in them great variety of expression and beauty of imagery.
On his return to Scotland, Mr. Hyslop resided frequently at Riehill, the residence of Dr. Crinzan, in the neighbourhood of Sanquhar. Both here and while living with his uncle at Carco, on the romantic Crawick, he wrote several letters and papers for literary periodicals; and Dr. Simpson states that, when he was at Carco, at his request and that of another friend, Mr. Hyslop "composed a metrical description of the martyrdom of John Brown of Priesthill, who was shot by Claverhouse before his own door. The production is lengthy, and is by no means impregnated with the same degree of poetic fire which distinguishes the Cameronian Dream." Mr. Rodger, of Greenock, states that one or more of the letters he received from Mr. Hyslop in 1825 were dated from Little Carco. "I am glad," he remarked, "that you find my letters on South America readable. I write them just offhand, as I am writing this one — they want nine of them. I have been making hay, herding sheep, binding corn-sheaves, stooking to sixteen shearers, and supping curds and cream, and my health is quite recovered."
He went to London in 1826, and was engaged as a reporter to a daily paper, which rendered necessary his regular attendance in the House of Commons. "But," as Mr. M'Diarmid remarks, "the incessant night-work and irksome toils of a class of men whose labours and merits are by no means duly appreciated again proved too much for his feeble frame; and in the end he embraced an offer that was made to him of undertaking the superintendence of a very extensive charity school." James Grant Wilson, in his "Poets and Poetry of Scotland," says that it was the "Times" on which he was engaged as a reporter, but his friends do not mention the name of the journal. In London he gained the acquaintance and friendship of the Rev. Edward Irving, that great preacher being then in the zenith of his fame and influence. He took down in shorthand one of Mr. Irving's spoken discourses, and the preacher was much pleased with the fulness and accuracy of the report. He advised the young reporter to study for the church, and gave him a small Hebrew Bible as an expression of his interest in and esteem for him. Mr. Hyslop carried letters with him to London from Lord Jeffrey and the Rev. Archibald Alison to Joanna Baillie and her sister, John Gibson Lockhart, and Allan Cunningham, by all of whom he was kindly received. He needed no introduction to Mr. Allan Cunningham, who ranks next to Burns and Hogg as a writer of Scottish song, for he had previously made his acquaintance in Nithsdale. The two were kindred spirits, and natives of the same district in Scotland; and their intimacy appears to have been particularly cordial. In one of his letters from London to Mr. Rodger, of Greenock, Mr. Hyslop says: — "I dined with Cunningham to-day, in his happy domestic circle, with his 'Jean' and all her little ones." His intercourse with eminent literary persons in the metropolis must have been extremely agreeable and improving to him; but he was too busy to have much time for authorship. In a letter to Mr. Rodger, dated from 10 Red Lion Square, London, 20th January, 1827, he says: — "I have written nothing myself for a long time; I have been so busy teaching Latin, &c., that I have had little time for literature."
But the year before he went to London (1825) appears to have been actively employed in visiting friends from whom he had been separated during the years of his absence in South America, writing for the press, revising earlier poems and writing new ones, and taking part at busy times in out-door labour on his uncle's farm of Little Carco — his grandfather, the former tenant of that farm, having probably been dead before this time. He visited Greenock that year to collect letters that he had written to friends there from abroad, and which supplied him with materials for his letters in the "Edinburgh Magazine," which were meant to be nine in number, but which ultimately extended to eleven; and he was well paid for them. There is one exquisite little piece which is supposed to have been written this year, entitled, "The Five Shilling Fee," and which the late Mr. Alexander Rodger, of Greenock, distinctly and unhesitatingly claims for Mr. Hyslop; but it is also claimed for the late Mr. Robert Kerr, of Urr, in Galloway. I have not been able to decide conclusively which is the preferable claim; but I here insert the poem, and the friends of both poets will be gratified to find that it receives such additional circulation as this volume can give it:
THE FIVE SHILLING FEE.
My mither was wae, for my faither was deid,
And they'd threatened to tak' the auld hoose ower oor heid;
Her earnings were sma', and the meal it grew dear;
I was auldest o' five, and could whiles see the tear,
As she cam' hame at nicht, glist'ning bricht in her een—
Half hid, as if 't didna jist wish to be seen.
I said na a word, but my heart it wad ache,
And I wished I was big, for my puir mither's sake.
The farmers aroond wanted herds for their kye,
And my wither she said she had ane that wad try;
I trembled, I mind, half in fear, half in joy,
When a farmer ca'd in jist to look at the boy.
He bade me stand up, and he thought I was wee,
But my frank, honest face, he said, pleased his e'e;
He wad tak' me and try me ae half-year to see,
For a pair o' new sheen, and a five shilling fee.
We were glad to hear tell o't — a bargain was struck,
And he gied us a saxpence o' arles for guid luck.
My trousers and jacket were patched for the day,
And my mither convoyed me a lang mile o' way,
Wi' charges and warnings 'gainst a' sorts o' crime,
And rules she laid doon, I thought hard at the time:
Though the kye should rin wrang, I was never to lee,
Though they sent me awa', 'thout my sheen or my fee.
Sae I set to my wark, and I pleased richt weel—
At a wave o' the hand I was aff like an eel.
But my troubles cam' on, for the fences were bad,
And the midsummer flies gart the cattle rin mad;
Or the cauld blashy weather, sair drenched wi' the rain,
Till wee thoughts o' leavin' wad steal through my brain;
But wi' courage I aye dashed the tear frae my e'e,
When I thought on my sheen and my five shilling fee!
Syne the lang looked-for Martinmas cam' wi' my store,
And proudly I counted it twenty times o'er;
Though years since are fled, in a fortunate train,
I never have felt such a rapture again.
Not the sailor, when safe through the breakers he's steer'd,
Not Waterloo's victor when Blucher appear'd,
Ere felt what I felt, when I placed on the knee
Of a fond-hearted mither, my five shilling fee!
Mr. Rodger repeatedly refers to this poem in his manuscript sketch of Hyslop; and of the date of its composition he says: — "Its subject is that of his first going to be a herd boy, which was probably in 1809; whilst the last verse of it, alluding to the battle of Waterloo, in 1815, shows that it could not have been completed earlier than that date." If Mr. Rodger got a copy of it from the author when he was residing in Greenock, or when he re-visited the town in 1825, such a fact would decide this question of authorship. But he seems not to have been aware that the authorship was questioned, or rather that the poem was distinctly claimed for another poet; and we can ask no questions at the dead.
On the other hand, Mr. Kerr is said to have composed the piece in 1838, eleven years after Mr. Hyslop's death; and it was published in the "Dumfries and Galloway Courier," in 1843, as from Mr. Kerr's pen. His friends are indignant that it should ever have been ascribed to any other. In the days of Hyslop and Kerr, authors seem to have been more modest than they are now; for they were very unwilling to append their names to their productions. There is, therefore, some danger of ascribing a meritorious piece to the wrong author.
Mr. Hugh Macdonald, in his "Days at the Coast," published in 1857, says that he first heard this piece as recited by Mr. John Campbell, driver of the coach from Lochgoilhead to St. Catherine's, on the shores of Lochfyne. John was proud to speak in praise of the dwellers in the huts among the hills in this district; and one day he said to an English lady who had spoken contemptuously of them: — "Ay, mem, it has frequently been in sic' huts as these that the men wha win your battles, and wha navigate your seas, have been born and brocht up. In sic' huts you'll find as honest men and as bonnie lasses as the kintra can boast. Hamely and humble as they look, these huts are rich in the kindliest affections of human nature — in the best materials of poetry; and to prove what I am saying, I'll repeat to ye, if you like, mem, twa-three verses that were written by a bit callant wha was born and bred in sic' anither shielin, as that weather-worn thing before us." The verses were then repeated. "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin;" and when John Campbell had given his recitation with much spirit and feeling, the English lady was in tears. Mr. Macdonald adds: — "There is, indeed, a strong dash of simple pathos in the verses — a something that finds its way to the heart and compels the tribute of a sympathetic tear. More especially is this the case when they flow in all earnestness and simplicity from the lips of John Campbell. A more effective bit of recitation — a more truthful touch of the grace which goes beyond the reach of art we have never heard, and we envy not their feelings who could listen to it unmoved. And who is the author of the verses? That we cannot answer. We had a shrewd suspicion that they might have been from John's own pen. He denies the soft impeachment, however, and ascribes them to some humble Dumfriesshire poet. Of course, in the absence of other information, we must accept his word." Mr. Macdonald was born in the beginning of 1817, and he was long connected with the newspaper press of Glasgow; but he appears not to have heard of the "Five Shilling Fee" till it was recited in his hearing by John Campbell, whose accurate recollection of the words was not associated with the name of the author. Mr. Rodger, who also knew the piece, declares that Hyslop was its author. The lines apply only in part to Hyslop's history; and they do not apply at all to that of Kerr, who was not a poor boy, and whose father survived him.
I have given the poem as recited by John Campbell, whose version appears to me, on the whole, to be the best of the three I have seen. On comparing the three copies, I find that each has numerous differences from the others, though the changes are slight: thirty-three lines are more or less changed in a short piece of five stanzas. It is known among the friends of Hyslop as "The Five Shilling Fee;" but its title in the "Dumfries Courier," and in Mr. Kerr's MS. book, is "My First Fee." In the "Courier" it was dated Haugh of Urr, 18th November, 1843, and it was reprinted in the same paper 10th October, 1848. Mr. Kerr died at Redcastle, the residence of his father, 30th September, 1848, at the early age of thirty-seven years. The title of his MS. book is — "A few of the Daft Ideas of Robert Kerr, loosely thrashed into Rhyme, and written here for the gratification of his own whim and for the perusal of a friend or two of his own kind of material and calibre, in the year o' good, 1838." Mr. Harper, of Castle-Douglas, to whom I am indebted for the above facts, kindly copied "My First Fee" out of this book for me, with the latest alterations made by the author. Mr. Harper says that in this book are "several other pieces remarkable for tenderness and truth." The simplicity and directness in John Campbell's version seem to indicate that it was the original. For instance, line three, in the first stanza, becomes in the "Courier" — "Her earnings were scant; the meal it grew dear;" and, in the MS. book, the same line is "Her earnings grew scanty; the meal was got dear. John Campbell gave the third line in the second stanza better than it is found in the "Courier" — "I min' how I trembled wi' half fear, half joy;" or in the MS. book — "I mind how I trembled, half fear and half joy." In the third stanza, "o' way " is changed for the worse to "away;" but the interjection "oh!" is prefixed to this stanza, and very properly omitted in both the other copies; so I have left it out in the transcription, this being the only change I have made. John Campbell's reading of the second line of the fourth stanza could never have been substituted for the line in the other copies — "But a word or a wave, and I plied hand or heel." The opening line in the last stanza has a poor substitute in the "Courier" — "An' Martinmas brought me my lang-pondered store;" nor is the line improved in the MS. book — "And Martinmas brought me my lang thought-of store." Probably, however, Mr. Kerr is the author; and we have no distinct evidence that Mr. Hyslop claimed it.
"The Infant's Dream," or "The Child's Dream," does not appear to have been published by Mr. Hyslop himself; but copies of it were in circulation among his friends, and it has been repeatedly printed since his death. A copy of it, in which English words were substituted for the few Scotch words originally in it, with other changes, was well known in Sabbath schools about the year 1840. I am indebted to Mr. George Jack, of Dundee, for the copy I have used. Mr. Jack received it from the late Mr. Hyslop, of Beith, uncle of the poet. The copies which I saw forty years ago were anonymous.
What remains of the story of James Hyslop's life may be briefly told. His health had become impaired in London, and the confinement of his school began also to affect him injuriously. Having attracted the attention of Lord Spencer he was, through his lordship's influence, engaged as tutor for His Majesty's ship "Tweed," commanded by Captain John Churchill, which was to sail for the Cape of Good Hope in the autumn of 1827. He returned to Scotland, with shattered health and sinking spirits, to bid farewell to his friends. He seemed much impressed with the idea that he was not likely ever to return to his native land, as the ship had the prospect of a long cruise amongst the islands of Australasia. His farewell lines to Scotland seem to have been known only to his friend Mr. Rodger, of Greenock, who received a copy of them from the author. Mr. Rodger says: — "Some of his feelings on this second departure from Britain are to be gathered from a poem that I have of his in MS. — probably the last he ever composed." Mr. Rodger quotes the following stanzas in his MS. sketch, embracing all that is now known of this poem:—
My native land! my fatherland!
I hail thee, ere the sea
Rolls in its broad blue waves between
Thy dear loved shores and me.
I ever loved thy glens of gloom,
And heights of cloud-capped brow,
But never loved thee with a love
So deep, so pure as now.
I loved thee when, with lightsome heart,
In youth's sweet sunny days,
I sported on thy primrose banks,
Or climbed thy heather braes.
I loved thee too when, from thy heights,
I watched the distant sea;
But dreamed not then, O sea! thou'dst part
My own loved land and me.
Favoured of Heaven! my native land!
Thou seem'st the golden source
Whence Truth to many a heathen shore
Shall speed her glorious course....
Where earth reveals a fairer fruit,
And sky a higher glow,
Away to haste that promised time
To distant isles I go.
Mr. Rodger says that the hope of helping the cause of Christianity among the islands he expected to visit, is strongly expressed in the poem; but the above lines are all that has been preserved of it. It was well that such a desire was in his heart, though he did not live to translate it into action.
The "Tweed" sailed in the beginning of October, and had reached the Cape Verd Islands before the last week of that month. This group of green islands in the Atlantic is about 320 miles west of Cape Verd. Fifteen of the crew, mostly officers, landed on the Island of St. Jago, where they were exposed to the tropical rains; and, after being thoroughly drenched with rain, they slept all night on the island, in the open air, without change of clothing. On reaching the vessel next day they were all seized with fever, and, after two days, seven of them died, one of the seven being the surgeon. Mr. Hyslop lingered on in delirium, during which he was nursed with great care and attention, the captain having given up his own bed to him. But he died on the 4th of November, 1827, at two o'clock in the afternoon; and, on the same day, his body, enclosed in a strong wooden coffin, was committed to the deep with military honours, there to sleep on till the Judge of all shall return to earth, and then the sea shall give up the dead that are in it.
This sad ending of a very promising life appears to have resulted from what was easily preventable. If the rains could not have been anticipated, the party might have returned to the ship, under the direction of the surgeon, on the same day they left it. It required no superior skill to know that sleeping in wet clothes, in the circumstances related, was peculiarly perilous. Tropical rains are heavy. After the bright sunshine of a forenoon in Palestine, as experienced by the party with which I travelled there, a dark cloud at noon rose over Mount Carmel, and suddenly descended in deluging rain on the plain of Esdraelon and the slopes of Shunem. Our horses, twenty-four in number, all turned their heads away from the direction in which the rain was coming, and stood till the torrent was over. One gentleman, who was not well protected, complained of the effects of the rain, and felt a tendency to shivering for eight days after the drenching he received on this occasion. Another traveller relates in his book that, having been exposed for two hours after sunset, on his first day in Palestine, to the heavy dew or night mist, he was cold all night in bed in his tent. Next day he rode into Jerusalem, but was immediately laid up with a delirious fever. A moderate amount of care might enable the natives of our temperate climate to travel with safety in the warmer regions of the South.
The news of Mr. Hyslop's death excited the deepest sorrow among a wide circle of friends and admirers in Scotland. This sketch may be concluded with the touching lines written on his death by a brother poet, who was also a native of Kirkconnel. Mr. William, Laing, in his "Ode to Crawick on the Loss of her Bard" (Tune, "Ye Banks and Braes"), thus laments the early death of his friend:
In glen and glade, sweet winding stream,
Where'er thy crystal waters shine,
For him in ceaseless murmurs mourn,
Who oft did blend his song with thine.
At close of day, he'll ne'er return,
To stray thy flowery banks along;
His gentle muse no longer may
Embalm thy beauties in her song.
Can ye not weep, ye smiling flowers,
That bloom so fair beneath the stream;
For him who sang your scented braes,
Nor knew, nor wished a sweeter theme?
For him, ye leafy woodlands, mourn,
With sighs that fragrant summer heaves;
Nor cease to sigh when autumn's winds
Make sport among your falling leaves.
The muse that sang the martyrs' tale
Shall wake no more the tuneful lay;
Nor ponder on the long-gone bye,
But well-remembered, Sabbath-day.
Dear be his memory 'mong the hills
And glens he loved and sang so well;
Record his fame, thou moorland wild,
Where saintly Cameron fought and fell.
Not long he stood the storms of time,
Life's sunset came when day was young;
Not long his simple strains were heard,
But, oh! his lyre was sweetly strung.
Mourn, gentle stream, thy gentle bard,
He sleeps not where thy waters lave,
Afar he found a resting-place,
Beneath the envious ocean's wave.
When the "Tweed" reached the Cape of Good Hope, a communication was sent to Mr. Hyslop's mother announcing his death, and intimating the high esteem in which he was held by all on board, and the faithful and affectionate manner in which he discharged his duties as tutor. Among his papers a few scraps of poetry were found, but the only complete piece was a copy of the "Scottish National Melody."
Mr. Hyslop's place among the poets will be variously estimated. Few poems have attained a popularity in Scotland equal to "The Cameronian Dream" and "The Scottish National Melody." The friends of the poet will welcome the long list of hitherto unpublished poems which appear in this volume. Allan Cunningham, who knew him intimately, describes Hyslop's poetic gifts as elegant rather than vigorous, sweet and graceful rather than lofty, although he was occasionally lofty too.